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Reading, Writing, and Revolution: Escuelitas and the Emergence of a Mexican American Identity in Texas (Hardcover)


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Runner-up, Ramirez Family Award for Most Significant Scholarly Book, 2021

Language has long functioned as a signifier of power in the United States. In Texas, as elsewhere in the Southwest, ethnic Mexicans’ relationship to education—including their enrollment in the Spanish-language community schools called escuelitas—served as a vehicle to negotiate that power. Situating the history of escuelitas within the contexts of modernization, progressivism, public education, the Mexican Revolution, and immigration, Reading, Writing, and Revolution traces how the proliferation and decline of these community schools helped shape Mexican American identity.

Philis M. Barragán Goetz argues that the history of escuelitas is not only a story of resistance in the face of Anglo hegemony but also a complex and nuanced chronicle of ethnic Mexican cultural negotiation. She shows how escuelitas emerged and thrived to meet a diverse set of unfulfilled needs, then dwindled as later generations of Mexican Americans campaigned for educational integration. Drawing on extensive archival, genealogical, and oral history research, Barragán Goetz unravels a forgotten narrative at the crossroads of language and education as well as race and identity.

About the Author

Philis M. Barragán Goetz is an assistant professor of history at Texas A&M University–San Antonio.

Praise For…

Reading, Writing, and Revolution is not merely a book about educational history; it is a trailblazing study on how Mexican Americans have relied on any tools available to create a more inclusive educational system for themselves and their community.
— New Books in Latino Studies

A fascinating history...Barragán Goetz does an excellent job of documenting the existence of escuelitas in the context of public school development, Mexican nation-building pressures, and Mexican-origin community developments...this book is a major contribution to the historiography of Mexican American education in the United States and lays the groundwork for additional work on the origins and development of community-based schooling in Chicanx history.
— Southwestern Historical Quarterly

[Reading, Writing, and Revolution] is groundbreaking...a must-read for those interested in education history, Mexican American history, borderlands history, and the history of civil rights activism...like Jovita González, who as an educator worked endlessly to teach the correct history of ethnic Mexicans in the United States, Barragán Goetz, has provided an essential piece of work also determined to set the record straight, that is, that Mexicans and Mexican Americans were not apathetic toward education but rather were resolute to furnish one that was free from Anglo segregation and other forms of discrimination.
— History of Education Quarterly

Reading, Writing, and Revolution provides ample evidence of how creating an inclusive history for Mexican-origin children in the state of Texas has always been a struggle...Barragán Goetz reminds us of the centrality of women’s work in education and their long-lasting impact on the history of Texas. Educators preparing to teach Mexican American history throughout the state, as well as parents wanting their children to learn this more inclusive history can better appreciate these efforts by looking at the escuelita model. They and anyone interested in the complexities and far-reaching legacies of the history of education have much to learn from Reading, Writing, and Revolution.
— Journal of Arizona History

Barragán Goetz has provided a significant intervention in the robust and well-respected field of Mexican American educational history in Texas...Written in an engaging manner and meticulously researched, this book will become a foundational text for those hoping to understand Mexican American schooling in Texas.
— Journal of the History of Childhood and Youth

A well-organized and well-supported body of work about South Texas' escualitas...[Reading, Writing, and Revolution] is a much needed conversation about resistance, self-determination, gender, and power in a time when the denial and erasure of history resonates today. Barragán Goetz’ attention to the collected narratives, and skillful presentation of ideas is tribute to the memory of a people – especially Mexican and Mexican American women – whose work benefitted future generations.
— Journal of Latinos and Education

"Barragán Goetz traces an important and complex trajectory of escuelita history in Reading, Writing, and Revolution, making this book an essential read for those interested in Mexican American educational history....Barragán Goetz corrects a century of history in this book, in showing that Mexican and Mexican American communities have always valued education and have taken on the necessary actions in sustaining the learning experiences of children."
— Pacific Historical Review
Product Details
ISBN: 9781477320914
ISBN-10: 1477320911
Publisher: University of Texas Press
Publication Date: May 5th, 2020
Pages: 248
Language: English