Kristina Rizga is a writer based in San Francisco. She is the author ofMission High: One School, How Experts Tried to Fail It, and the Students and Teachers Who Made It Triumph.
This article appeared May 1, 2018 in The Atlantic Online
On Rebecca Palacios’s first day in front of a classroom, one of her white students picked up his chair and threw it toward her, declaring that he refused to be taught by a “Mexican teacher.” It was 1976, Palacios was 22 years old, and many of her first-grade students were at the school because of a recently launched busing program in Corpus Christi, Texas, that the courts had mandated in an effort to racially integrate campuses. Large numbers of white students were now traveling across town to her school—Lamar Elementary—which for generations had served mostly working-class Mexican American children.
Growing up in the 1950s and ’60s…
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