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Chicana/o historical counterstories: Documenting the community memory of Junipero Serra and Clark Street schools


In the absence of a federal mandate, the educational segregation of Chicana/o students was the result of powerful local district policies (San Miguel, 1986). The experiences of segregated Mexican-descent students in the Pasadena Unified School District and Barstow Union School District are histories that have been informally shared amongst family members but formally unwritten. This study demonstrates how familial and local history, when woven together, can generate a more textured sense of the myriad ways that Chicana/o educational segregation manifested throughout the Southwest and provide an important context for the unequal schooling conditions that persist to this day. I introduce the concept of "historical counterstorytelling" as a powerful methodological tool that can be used to write this more nuanced educational history using a critical race lens. Throughout this dissertation, I outline the features and elements of historical counterstories, which are a generative union of education and history methods. I offer Junipero Serra School in Pasadena, California and Clark Street School in Barstow, California as collective case studies of "Mexican schools" and the sites for the writing of the specific historical counterstories in this dissertation. This dissertation thusestablishes the social and economic contexts for segregated "Mexican schools"; identifies the majoritarian stories that supported such segregation; and shares the diverse ways that children and families of Mexican descent mitigated and resisted deficit frameworks in two Southern California communities. Doing so documents the community memory (Delgado Bernal, 1998b) of Chicanas/os in Pasadena and Barstow, while also allowing for a discussion of the similarities and divergences between those communities. I ultimately offer this new critical race methodology of historical counterstorytelling as a tool that community members, students, and scholars of diverse backgrounds can take up and use as they reclaim their own subjugated knowledge and that of their communities.

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