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Continuing Sal’s WorkThe Urgent Need for Educational Reform LatinoPOV_com

Continuing Sal’s WorkThe Urgent Need for Educational Reform LatinoPOV_com

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Published by: Editor on May 19, 2013
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 A Latino Point of View in Today's Worl
Continuing Sal’s Work:The Urgent Need for 
Educational Reform
“It’s a great day to be a Chicano!”
Sal Castro, affirming the unity of his community’s struggle to effect
 The recent passing of long-time Los Angeles teacher, educational reformer andcivil rights activist Sal Castro is a great loss to our community and to the causeof improving the education and lives of young people. He fought with courageand consistency for close to fifty years to expand the educational and civil rightsof Chicano-Latino students and to motivate them to continue their education.His absence from this struggle and his key historical role in it has
Sal Castro, the people’s
teacher: an advocate for civil rights and educationalreform(click to enlarge photos)
placed before us a new perspective in regard to viewing our past efforts toimprove the educational system and particularly how they have affected the well-being of Latino students. Sal helped organize and participated in the 1968
“Blowouts” or high school walkouts of Chicano students in East Los Angeles to
protest the inferior education that they were receiving. This mass protest that was supported by many community organizations opened the eyes of the publicto the segregated and deficient school system that was stunting the learning
experience of these students. The city’s politicians, L.A. School Board and police
department eventually responded to these legal protests for reform with arepressive grand jury indictment and jailing of Sal and twelve other community members for conspiracy to disrupt the schools. With strong student andcommunity support and the efforts of the ACLU these bogus charges and illegalframe-up were finally dropped. However, Sal was removed from his belovedLincoln High School by the school board and moved around to other schoolsites in order to isolate him. At this time even many fellow teachers and theirunion officials turned against him, but this did not discourage Sal as he knew that they were wrong and that his quest and that of the community foreducational equity was just. The list of issues and demands that were raised by this mass protest movement were firmly enunciated by students and the EastL.A. based Educational Issues Coordinating Committee (EICC) which was acommunity organization comprised of parents, college students and progressiveunion members that evolved from this struggle. The platform of this broad- based organization during this period included demands for more collegepreparatory courses and counselors, Chicano teachers and administrators,courses on Chicano history and culture, smaller class size, programs to decreasethe high dropout rate at predominantly Latino schools and new methods of evaluating administrators and teachers that included community input. Thesedemands along with others were fought for by the EICC with the support of thecommunity at public forums, meetings and even with sit-ins at the L.A. School
Board office in order to have them implemented. Sal’s passing and his tenacious
efforts to enact these changes during all of these years until the last vibrantmoments of his life has left us with his courageous legacy and a need for us tocontinue our forward progress.
 An entrenched school district and the 45-year effort to change thesystem
 The original and basic demand of the EICC back in 1968 was for a fundamental
change in the educational program of the Los Angeles School District and animprovement in the academic achievement of Chicano/Latino students. Thesedemands were only partially accepted by the school bureaucracy which was not willing to accept a systemic change of the system. During the following decade
of the 1970′s the L.A. Dis
trict fought against the court-ordered desegregationefforts mandated by the Crawford case which entailed busing students in orderto integrate the schools. Organizing to prevent this court-ordered busing of kids
Demonstrators from the Valley group “Bustop” opposed integration efforts and
 was a primarily whi
te organization from the Valley called “Bustop” who won
political control of the school board and proceeded to halt this busing program.This busing program was eventually replaced with new magnet schools whichoffered special programs to lure white parents and students into attending
these “better” schools. From that time forward the District has presented these
schools as proof of being in compliance with the pending court order todesegregate even though they have only affected a small portion of the students within the LAUSD. Over the years this arrangement has now created a two-tiersystem of magnet schools which provide better educational programs for their
students while the majority of pupils attend the other “regular” schools. A 
political campaign w 
as organized during the 1990′s by the residents of the still
predominantly white San Fernando Valley to break off from the LAUSD andform their own separate school district. In response to this proposed break-upeffort numerous reform plans by the L.A. School District were subsequently adopted and then eventually abandoned without any summation or explanationas to why they failed. Millionaire Richard Riordan who would later becomemayor financed the election of a new supposedly reform-minded school boardto avoid a break-up of the district and initiated the LEARN school reform effort.Related to this LEARN reform effort were School-Based Management, SharedDecision-Making programs, etc. All of these were implemented with muchfanfare as an idealistic cure-a
ll for the district’s problems and then quietly 

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