Education and Language

Education & Language

Sabrina & Lizzette

Objective 1:

Define and apply terms to current world situations


Objective 2:

Understand the history of Latinx students’ experiences within the United States educational system, deficit-model thinking, previous educational bans, and why they happened and where we are now.

Objective 3:

Understand the history of bilingual education by learning the fight for equality and the importance of bilingual education programs, and comprehending biases.

Objective 4:

Highlight important figures and their theories in the field of language and education.


This page will cover the United States education system, a Latinx fight for educational equity, the benefits ESL programs and the backlash they have received, the push for bilingual education, the fight for anti-racist education, and how to teach using anti-bias methods. More specifically, this page will explore select moments in the history of court cases involving the fight for education and educational equity. It will discuss the challenges faced by Latinx students in the educational system by looking into the policies that have been put in place against bilingual education and ESL programs and by examining the deficit-model and deficit-model thinking. A good way to explain deficit-model thinking is by studying the Chicano Walkouts in 1969, which represented the frustrations Chicano students felt after not being perceived as “college material” and being told to study shop instead of college prep. Those students were fighting against the deficit-model and deficit-model thinking then, but now, students from poor families are receiving a disproportionate education than students from rich families. By exploring previous cases and discussing the existing challenges in the system, we can question how much these institutions have truly changed and learn to work towards a better future for all students, regardless of their background or social class.

History on Education and Language

Noted scholar Paolo Freire first described in the 1960s a common dynamic in the classroom that he called the “banking” system of education where the teacher is acknowledged as an “all-knowing” person that often translates curriculum knowledge to students in a static way. Students recognize the power dynamic because they are treated as if they do not know anything and must be taught all of the information.

However, cultural capital (the knowledge one has from being a part of a particular group or culture) is essential in education. Not every student will know how stocks work, for example, but every student will know what they have learned from their culture and world around them. Teachers who want to leverage the cultural capital of children of color and build on their cultural knowledge bases must use inquiry-based learning that critiques traditional notions of learning and knowing, and offers an alternative framework that integrates the knowledge of both teachers and students.

    CT: Connections To Local Realities

    This video explores the challenges to dual language teaching. Even when schools truly want bilingual fluency for children, providing it can be more difficult than it looks. Part of the problem lies in how we measure competencies. Mastery tests measure one’s ability to speak English assuming one has spoken nothing else. Bilingualism takes longer to develop, and one must use a longer measuring stick. Unfortunately, to compound lack of proper measurement standards, overcrowding in classrooms diminishes language teaching effectiveness as well. 

    As we have learned through the history section, there is a long timeline of people who are for and against bilingual education. Many schools today focus on English-only methods, and perceive Spanish-speaking skills as a hindrance to language success in a deficit-model way of thinking. Drilling grammar into children, rather than using more interactive methods of teaching that incorporate students’ cultural knowledge bases, often alienate children and lead to feelings of cultural invalidation. Daisy Hernandez in her autobiography Cup of Water Under My Bed and Diane Guerrero in her book In the Country We Love: My Family Divided both discuss their feelings of cultural rejection in school. 

    The video “Learning Matters: The Language War In New Britain” also shows that parents and students need more support from schools as they face personal issues that can affect students and their participation in class.

    Studies have proven that proficy in a language is determined by conversations people can hold in that language rather than the grammatical aspect of the language. According to the 2017 consensus study report, “Promoting the Educational Successes of Children and Youth Learning English,” it was discovered that students acquire language proficiency within 4 to 7 years with bilingual education. However, without bilingual education, it takes students 7-9 years to achieve language proficiency.

    The following video “Personalized Learning at Hartford Public Schools” reveals the benefits of personalized and interactive teaching, which contrasts from the overcrowded and noninteractive teaching seen in the previous video. It is important to see the contributions that are being made in our state as we improve the quality of education.

    For further information on the contributions that the Latinx community has made to Connecticut education and local organizations, visit the “Puerto Rican Impact on CT” and “Social Justice” under our tab.

    “Preservation of one’s own culture does not require contempt or disrespect for other cultures.”

    Cesar Chavez

    “If you really want to make a friend, go to someone’s house and eat with him… the people who give you their food give you their heart.”

    Cesar Chavez

    “The fight is never about grapes or lettuce. It is always about people.”

    Cesar Chavez

    Companion Pieces For Students

    To the right, we have listed some companion pieces teachers can add or recommend for students. The first four pieces are books that are made to tell different stories of people in the Latinx community. The second row has four movie recommendations for the classroom.


    Lastly, we have linked four videos that talk about different perspectives people have on bilingualism and the educational system. We included two slam poetry videos on the educational system and bilingualism, a quick  informational video on the benefits of bilingualism, and a video on people who are trying to reclaim their heritage by learning Spanish later in their lives.

    The House on Mango Street

    A story about a young Chicana and what it is like growing up a Latina immigrant in Chicago

    A Year Without Sundays: Images From The Literacy Campaign In Cuba

    Filmmaker, Catherine Murphy (whose documentary, Maestra, is included with the book) and photographer, CarlosTorres Cairo have captured the fervor, dedication, and enthusiasm with which thousands of young people taught their fellow Cubans, from the countryside to the cities, how to read and write. In the rural countryside, the literacy teachers worked side by side with their students.




    A young girl growing up in Spanish Harlem in the 1940’s watches the secure world of her childhood years slowly erode away. Selected as Outstanding Book of the Year by The New York Times and Best Book of 1973 by the American Library Association. 


    Jazz Owls: A Novel of the Zoot Suit Riots

    However, the 1943 attack by white sailors on Mexican Americans, Filipinos, and African Americans in Los Angeles, known as the Zoot Suit Riots, gets little mention. During the Zoot Suit Riots (which Engle refers to as the Sailor Riots) we also hear from reporters, police, and sailors.

    The 13th

    This movie, “explores the history of racial inequality in the United States, focusing on the fact that the nation’s prisons are disproportionately filled with African-Americans.”

    Precious Knowledge

    In Tucson, Arizona, high-schoolers and teachers try their best to save their ethinc studies class from being removed.


    A teacher becomes a mentor to Chicano high-school students protesting injustices in public schools in 1968.

    Chicano! Taking Back Our Schools

    The movie documents the 1968 walkout by thousands of Mexican-American high school students in East Los Angeles against unfair treatment in their schools.