March 6, 1968 EAST LOS ANGELES HIGH SCHOOL
WALK OUT DEMANDS
CONTEXT: Throughout the early 1960s, Mexican American youth experienced inferior educational opportunities throughout the Southwest. It was not uncommon for students to be punished for speaking Spanish at school, to be channeled into shop and agricultural classes rather than college preparatory classes, and to suffer arbitrary corporeal punishment at the hands of school administrators. Not surprisingly, in the four East Los Angeles high schools with high a majority of Mexican American students, the drop out rate ran as high as 60%. Beginning in 1967, students from Garfield, Roosevelt, Lincoln and Wilson began to plan a major civil disturbance to call attention to the inferior education they were receiving. Aware that the city schools received a daily stipend for each student attending school, the savvy student activists devised a way to hit the school system in the pocket book. The plan was to stage a massive walk-out from the four schools on the same day and thereby cost the school system thousands of dollars in unearned stipends. Although the plan was to be a coordinated walk-out from all four schools, on March 6, 1968 several hundred students at Wilson high school jumped the gun and stormed out of school to protest the cancelling of a school play. In the next few days, hundreds of students from Garfield, Roosevelt and Lincoln high schools joined in the massive display of civil disobedience that involved dozens of arrests and beatings by Los Angeles police officers. By the end of the week, more than 15,000 students had walkout out of classrooms throughout the city in solidarity with the demands of the striking students. As concerned parents and teachers joined the students and formed an ad hoc Educational Issues Coordinating Committee, the students themselves articulated proposals for reform in Eastside education.
PROPOSALS MADE BY HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS OF EAST LOS ANGELES TO BOARD OF EDUCATION
I. No student or teacher will be reprimanded or suspended for participating in any efforts which are executed for the purpose of improving or furthering the educational quality in our schools.
II. Bilingual–Bi-cultural education will be compulsory for Mexican-Americans in the Los Angeles City School System where there is a majority of Mexican-American students. This program will be open to all other students on a voluntary basis. A) in-service education programs will be instituted immediately for all staff in order to teach them the Spanish language and increase their understanding of the history, traditions, and contributions of the Mexican culture. B) All administrators in the elementary and secondary schools in these areas will become proficient in the Spanish language Participants are to be compensated during the training period at not less than $8.80 an hour and upon completion of the course will receive in addition to their salary not less than $100.00 a month. The monies for these programs will come from local funds, state funds and matching federal funds.
III. Administrators and teachers who show any form of prejudice toward Mexican or Mexican-American students, including failure to recognize, understand, and appreciate Mexican culture and heritage, will be removed from East Los Angeles schools. This will be decided by a Citizens Review Board selected by the Educational Issues Committee.
IV. Textbooks and curriculum will be developed to show Mexican and Mexican-American contribution to the U.S. society and to show the injustices that Mexicans have suffered as a culture of that society. Textbooks should concentrate on Mexican folklore rather than English folklore.
V. All administrators where schools have majority of Mexican-American descent shall be of Mexican-American descent. If necessary, training programs should be instituted to provide a cadre of Mexican-American administrators.
VI. Every teacher’s ratio of failure per students in his classroom shall be made available to community groups and students. Any teacher having a particularly high percentage of the total school dropouts in his classes shall be rated by the Citizens Review Board composed of the Educational Issues Committee.
I. Schools should have a manager to take care of paper work and maintenance supervision. Administrators will direct the Education standards of the School instead of being head janitors and office clerks as they are today.
II. School facilities should be made available for community activities under the supervision of Parents’ Councils (not PTA). Recreation programs for children will be developed.
III. No teacher will be dismissed or transferred because of his political views and/or philosophical disagreements with administrators.
IV. Community parents will be engaged as teacher’s aides. Orientation similar to in-service training, will be provided, and they will be given status as semi-professionals as in the new careers concept.
I. The Industrial Arts program must be re-vitalized. Students need proper training to use the machinery of modern day industry. Up-to-date equipment and new operational techniques must replace the obsolescent machines and outmoded training methods currently being employed in this program. If this high standard cannot be met, the Industrial Arts program will be de-emphasized.
II. New high schools in the area must be immediately built. The new schools will be named by the community. At least two Senior High Schools and at least one Junior High School must be built. Marengo Street School must be reactivated to reduce the student-teacher load at Murchison Street School.
III. The master plans for Garfield High School and Roosevelt High School must go into effect immediately.
IV. Library facilities will be expanded in all East Los Angeles high schools. At present the libraries in these high schools do not meet the educational needs of the students. Sufficient library materials will be provided in Spanish.
V. Open-air student eating areas should be made into roofed eating malls. As an example, Los Angeles High School.
I. Corporal punishment will only be administrated according to State Law.
II. Teachers and administrators will be rated by the students at the end of each semester.
III. Students should have access to any type of literature and should be allowed to bring it on campus.
IV. Students who spend time helping teachers shall be given monetary and/or credit compensation.
V. Students will be allowed to have guest speakers to club meetings. The only regulation should be to inform the club sponsor.
VI. Dress and grooming standards will be determined by a group of a) students and b) parents.
VII. Student body offices shall be open to all students. A high grade point average shall not be considered as a pre-requisite to eligibility.
VIII. Entrances to all buildings and restrooms should be accessible to all students during schools hours. Security can be enforced by designated students.
IX. Student menus should be Mexican oriented. When Mexican food is served, mother from the barrios should come to the school and help supervise the preparation of the food. These mothers will meet the food handler requirements of Los Angeles City Schools and they will be compensated for their services.
X. School janitorial services should be restricted to the employees hired for that purposes by the school board. Students will be punished by picking up paper or trash and keeping them out of class.
XI. Only area superintendents can suspend students.