Document Type

Dissertation

Date of Degree

Spring 2015

Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)

Degree In

Educational Policy and Leadership Studies

First Advisor

Christine A. Ogren

Abstract

This dissertation provides a history of Mexicana/os' participation in three modes of education: formal, non-formal, and informal, in the midwestern states of Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, and Missouri, from 1910 to 1955. Informed by Critical Race Theory and LatCrit Theory, the study addresses the social constructions of race, gender, and class as it analyzes how these ongoing and complex constructions influenced not only how dominant society structured and practiced education offered to Mexicana/os but also how Mexicana/os participated in education and made education work for them in parochial and public schools, in settlement houses, in churches and missions, and in familial and community settings.

Public Abstract

This dissertation provides a history of Mexicana/os’ participation in formal, non-formal, and informal education in the Midwest from 1910-1955. While most published histories of Mexican American education focus on formal schooling in the U.S. Southwest, this dissertation serves to explore education in schools and other settings in the midwestern states of Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, and Missouri. The study addresses the social constructions of race, gender, and class as it analyzes how these ongoing and complex constructions influenced not only how broader communities structured and practiced education offered to Mexicana/os but also how Mexicana/os participated in education and made education work for them.

Based on over a hundred existing oral history interviews and other primary and secondary sources, this dissertation argues that Mexicana/os living in the Midwest in the first half of the twentieth century valued education. Mexicana/os deliberately pursued formal, non-formal, and informal education. Mexican/os actively participated in and utilized what was available, they navigated around, resisted, and challenged racialized structures and practices, and they made education work for themselves, their children, and their communities.

The first two chapters focus on formal education. Chapter One investigates the schools available to Mexicana/os and the school structures and practices they encountered, including segregated schools and English-only policies. Chapter Two explores what formal school meant to Mexicana/os, how they made choices about schooling, and how they utilized varied educational opportunities through schools. The study then turns to non-formal education through settlement houses and religious institutions. Chapter Three explores Mexicana/os’ decisions about participating at two midwestern settlement houses: Neighborhood House in St. Paul, Minnesota, and Guadalupe Center in Kansas City, Missouri. The chapter explores how Mexicana/os navigated Americanization education and looks at Mexicana/os’ agency in initiating and joining clubs and taking leadership roles. Chapter Four reveals Mexicana/os’ agency in seeking out non-formal educational opportunities in Protestant and Catholic churches andmissions, as well as in utilizing these institutions to organize mutual aid societies and devotional societies through which they taught themselves, other parishioners, and the broader community about service, faith, and Mexican history and culture. Finally, the study explores informal, or familial and community, education, investigating how Mexicana/os modeled and taught themselves and their children life skills, lessons in faith, values, and literacy, and how they developed and transmitted Mexican history and culture, on their own terms.

Keywords

publicabstract, Formal education, Informal education, Mexican American, Midwest, Non-formal education

Pages

x,292 pages

Bibliography

Includes bibliographical references (pages 277-292).

Copyright

Copyright 2015 Caran Amber Crawford Howard

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