Stolen Education

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Stolen Education

Institute of Texan Cultures screens documentary on systematic discrimination in Texas schools

 
SAN ANTONIO – After the Supreme Court outlawed school segregation in 1954, elected officials still searched for ways to separate minorities from the mainstream. In the classrooms of Driscoll, Texas, it meant assigning minority children to three years of first grade, not based on their academic ability, but the color of their skin.
 
Enrique Aleman captured this story in "Stolen Education," a documentary showing at the Institute of Texan Cultures, 2 – 4 p.m., Sunday, March 9 – the museum’s free admission day, Second Sunday.
 
Stolen Education is, in a way, a personal story for Enrique Aleman, assistant vice president for student equity & diversity and an associate professor of educational leadership & policy at the University of Utah, who produced the film. His mother was one of the children affected by the Driscoll school system’s discriminatory policy. She was, at age nine, kept in first grade. The film notes how some of these students, at age 21, had not yet graduated high school and were sometimes mistaken for school staff members.
 
"We are still seeing and feeling the effects of discrimination today," said Lupita Barrera, director of education and interpretation at the Institute of Texan Cultures. "The repercussions of this system have led to adults who have never completed high school, or can’t compete with a younger person for a job. It’s one of the sins of our society that these people’s growth was stunted by the system. It’s hard to talk about, it’s hard to see, but we can’t ignore this or gloss it over. It’s a reality."
 
In 1956, with the assistance of the American G.I. Forum, eight Mexican-American elementary students and their families filed a class action lawsuit against the Texas-based Driscoll Consolidated Independent School District for discrimination. The lawsuit was spurred on by the placement of Linda Perez, an English-only speaking student in the Mexican (Spanish-speaking) classroom. The discrimination case went to court and lasted two days. The court found in favor of the plaintiffs. However, it took years until the school district was desegregated.
 
A conversation with Enrique Aleman and museum facilitators will follow the screening. The film was shown in Fall 2013 at the UTSA Downtown Campus to a standing room-only crowd.
 
The Institute of Texan Cultures is located on the UTSA HemisFair Park Campus, 801 E. César E. Chávez Blvd., a short distance from the Alamo and the River Walk. The museum sponsors a free admission day and related programming on the second Sunday of every month. For more information, call 210-458-2300 or visit TexanCultures.com.
 
 

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