East Los Angeles Student Walkouts

During the last lapse of the 1960s a controversy was exposed to the public eye. In such controversy, the school system of East Los Angeles, California, was involved. Inside the school system of East Los Angeles, Mexican-American students were being discriminated and treated differently among the rest of the students. Besides being discriminated, Chicano student were offered poor quality facilities from the school system. Teachers and staff underestimated Chicano students’ academic abilities as well as recreational skills. Mexican-American students were ignored and departed from their academic opportunities. As a consequence, the Mexican-American community had the highest dropout rate among minorities in the United States. Furthermore, the Chicano community also had the lowest college attending rate overall. Community leaders were upset by this situation and made them angrier the fact that the school system of East Los Angeles did not tried to improve the situation the Mexican-American student community was going through. Activists could not handle such situation anymore and decided to put pressure on the school system to make some efforts at coming up with a solution for Chicano students.

Activists, teachers, and students against the school system, gathered together and wrote thirty six demands to the Board of Education of East Los Angeles. Among the demands written by the group of activists, teachers, and students were the creation of a bilingual and bicultural education, the addition of more Latino teachers and administrators to the schools, smaller classes, better facilities, as well as the incorporation of Mexican History to text books. None of the demands were met and ideas on how to attack the school system started to came out. The best strategy they found was walking out of schools. The main goal of the strategy was to hurt schools financially since the schools in Los Angeles were paid based on the number of students in class each day. Therefore, the idea was to walk out before attendance was taken. But an unexpected incident changed the whole plan.

The cancellation of the play by Neil Simons, “Barefoot in the Park”, was enough to trigger the walkouts planned in Los Angeles. That is how the first student walkout occurred, it was held on March 1st of 1968 and 300 students walked out that day. Throughout the following days the student walkouts or “blow outs” expanded across the school system of East Los Angeles. The walkouts had some violent incidents where schools locked the gates and called the police to contain the students from walking away. In high schools like Garfield, Roosevelt, and Belmont High School police had to intervene and as consequence arrests were made. After the massive walkouts, the Board of Education agreed on having a meeting with the Mexican-American community to find a possible solution to the situation. The thirty six demands originally sent to the Board of Education were brought to the discussion and again the school system rejected the demands. The argument was insufficient funds to implement rigorous changes to the school system. This caused the raised the rumor of more possible walkouts. The Board of Education got afraid of this rumor and decided to start making changes into the school system. Even though the changes were not seen immediately, eventually the school system started to change. Most of the demands were not met, but the student walkouts proved the power of Mexican-American to unify and fight for their cause.


About golopes2012

Group Project of the 1960's.
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2 Responses to East Los Angeles Student Walkouts

  1. golopes2012 says:

    It is awful to see that in schools, the Mexican/American or Mexican community was treated so much differently than the whites who attended schools. Of course the Chicano’s would drop out if they were treated so insufficiently. The walkouts were a great way to get the point across that they deserved the same rights as white students, because the school would lose money if less students were in attendance. Therefore, the schools would have to make everyone happy to get their precious funding. It is sad that in the end of the walkouts that most of the demands for a better education for the Mexican community were not met, but it showed that they would band together to fight for the rights they deserved.
    -Suzie Z.

  2. golopes2012 says:

    Its sad to hear that Mexican-American’s had the highest dropout rate because they werewere treated differently and did not have the same facilities that other students had. They had less of an oppurtunity and I think that everyone should be able to live their dreams. I like how these student just walked out of the school building so the school would not recieve their government funding. I think it was extreme for the schools to actually lock students into the school so they could not leave.In todays age if a group of students were protesting and tried to leave school but were locked in there would be major lawsuits on the schools hands.

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