Book Review: Mexican Americans and Education: El saber es poder by Estela Godinez Ballon.

AuthorSoni, Jaya
PositionBook review

Godinez Ballon, Estela. Mexican Americans and Education: El saber es poder. Tucson: The University of Arizona Press, 2015. x + 179 pages. Paperback, $22.95.

Of the 50 million students enrolled in elementary and secondary schools in the United States, 8 million are Mexican American. This is not surprising to those abreast of population trends given that Mexican Americans have become one of the fastest growing demographic groups in the United States. However, despite substantial presence in U.S. schools, educational and workforce outcomes for Mexican Americans continue to be substantially lower than U.S. averages, particularly in such categories as annual household income ($10,000 below average), the percentage living in poverty, and the percentage attaining white-collar employment.

Sociologist Godinez Ballon, a professor of Liberal Studies, has cohesively woven together an analysis of significant factors contributing to such outcomes. She draws from several academic disciplines including, but not limited to, anthropology, education policy, history, Chicano/a studies, American studies, and sociology of education. To highlight educational inequalities, the author also utilizes data from the National Center for Education Statistics, the College Board, the Pew Hispanic Center, and the Kaiser Family Foundation among others. Stemming from this broad field of references, Godinez Ballon argues that structural inequalities within the U.S. school system account for educational disparities of many Mexican American students. In making this argument, she discredits the historically subjective and prejudicial theories that claim that educational disparities are due to genetic and cultural inadequacies.

Chapter 1 of the text identifies historical factors that have created significant barriers for Mexican Americans. These include overt school segregation, assimilation agendas (referred to as Americanization), Mexican American community responses, and the cultural and genetic deficit theories. Here, Godinez Ballon ties in reproduction theories, critical race theory, critical ethnography, and other approaches as a means of sufficiently decentering hegemonic narratives. Chapter 2 provides a contemporary snapshot of ongoing systematic challenges that include continued school segregation, standardized testing, and curriculum tracking. Chapter 3 focuses on language and education with regards to English learners. Godinez Ballon notes several institutional...

To continue reading

Request your trial

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT