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Reading, Writing, and Revolution

Reading, Writing, and Revolution
Escuelitas and the Emergence of a Mexican American Identity in Texas

The first book on the history of escuelitas, Reading, Writing, and Revolution examines the integral role these grassroots community schools played in shaping Mexican American identity.

May 2020
Conference of Latin Americanist Geographers
248 pages | 6 x 9 | 13 b&w photos, 2 b&w illus., 2 b&w maps |

Language has long functioned as a signifier of power in the United States. In Texas, as elsewhere in the Southwest, ethnic Mexicans’ relationship to education—including their enrollment in the Spanish-language community schools called escuelitas—served as a vehicle to negotiate that power. Situating the history of escuelitas within the contexts of modernization, progressivism, public education, the Mexican Revolution, and immigration, Reading, Writing, and Revolution traces how the proliferation and decline of these community schools helped shape Mexican American identity.

Philis M. Barragán Goetz argues that the history of escuelitas is not only a story of resistance in the face of Anglo hegemony but also a complex and nuanced chronicle of ethnic Mexican cultural negotiation. She shows how escuelitas emerged and thrived to meet a diverse set of unfulfilled needs, then dwindled as later generations of Mexican Americans campaigned for educational integration. Drawing on extensive archival, genealogical, and oral history research, Barragán Goetz unravels a forgotten narrative at the crossroads of language and education as well as race and identity.


Tejas Foco Non-fiction Book Award, National Association for Chicana and Chicano Studies

2021 Tejano Book Prize, Tejano Genealogy Society of Austin

2021 Jim Parish Award for Documentation and Publication of Local and Regional History, Webb County Heritage Foundation

2022 National Association for Chicana and Chicano Studies Book Award

  • Introduction. Escuelitas, Literacy, and Imaginary Dual Citizenship
  • Chapter 1. Escuelitas and the Expansion of the Texas Public School System, 1865–1910
  • Chapter 2. Imaginary Citizens and the Limits of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo: Educational Exclusion and the Mexican Consulate Investigation of 1910
  • Chapter 3. Revolutionary and Refined: Feminism, Early Childhood Education, and the Mexican Consulate in Laredo, Texas, 1910–1920
  • Chapter 4. Education in Post–Mexican Revolution Texas, 1920–1950
  • Chapter 5. Escuelitas and the Mexican American Generation’s Campaign for Educational Integration
  • Conclusion. The Contested Legacy of Escuelitas in American Culture
  • Acknowledgments
  • Notes
  • Bibliography
  • Index

Philis M. Barragán Goetz
San Antonio, Texas

Barragán Goetz is an assistant professor of history at Texas A&M University–San Antonio.


Reading, Writing, and Revolution is not merely a book about educational history; it is a trailblazing study on how Mexican Americans have relied on any tools available to create a more inclusive educational system for themselves and their community.”
New Books in Latino Studies

“A fascinating history...Barragán Goetz does an excellent job of documenting the existence of escuelitas in the context of public school development, Mexican nation-building pressures, and Mexican-origin community developments...this book is a major contribution to the historiography of Mexican American education in the United States and lays the groundwork for additional work on the origins and development of community-based schooling in Chicanx history.”
Southwestern Historical Quarterly

“[Reading, Writing, and Revolution] is groundbreaking...a must-read for those interested in education history, Mexican American history, borderlands history, and the history of civil rights Jovita González, who as an educator worked endlessly to teach the correct history of ethnic Mexicans in the United States, Barragán Goetz, has provided an essential piece of work also determined to set the record straight, that is, that Mexicans and Mexican Americans were not apathetic toward education but rather were resolute to furnish one that was free from Anglo segregation and other forms of discrimination.”
History of Education Quarterly

Reading, Writing, and Revolution provides ample evidence of how creating an inclusive history for Mexican-origin children in the state of Texas has always been a struggle...Barragán Goetz reminds us of the centrality of women’s work in education and their long-lasting impact on the history of Texas. Educators preparing to teach Mexican American history throughout the state, as well as parents wanting their children to learn this more inclusive history can better appreciate these efforts by looking at the escuelita model. They and anyone interested in the complexities and far-reaching legacies of the history of education have much to learn from Reading, Writing, and Revolution.”
Journal of Arizona History

“Barragán Goetz has provided a significant intervention in the robust and well-respected field of Mexican American educational history in Texas...Written in an engaging manner and meticulously researched, this book will become a foundational text for those hoping to understand Mexican American schooling in Texas.”
Journal of the History of Childhood and Youth

Reading, Writing, and Revolution is the freshest, most innovative scholarship in Chicana/o history to appear in some time. Until now, the history of escuelitas has remained elusive and not extensively documented. Through the creative use of untapped, stellar primary documents and oral histories combined with a tremendous ingenuity of interpretation, Philis Barragán Goetz reconstructs both the local history and the international roots of the escuelitas of Texas. In doing so, she sheds new light upon the whole of the field.”
Carlos Kevin Blanton, Texas A&M University, author of George I. Sánchez: The Long Fight for Mexican American Integration

Reading, Writing, and Revolution situates escuelitas (little schools) as alternative spaces that disrupted the Anglicizing hegemonic institutions of US schools. Mexican Americans revered education and offered racial uplift in these schools, which were based on ethnic self-determination during an era of racial exclusion and segregation. Barragán Goetz recasts Mexican American women as, simultaneously, teachers and revolutionary leaders confronting patriarchy. Merging US and Mexican history, this detailed, well-researched work is the first major study of escuelitas as tools of Mexican American empowerment in the Southwest.”
Cynthia E. Orozco, Eastern New Mexico University, Ruidoso, author of Agent of Change: Adela Sloss-Vento, Mexican American Civil Rights Activist and Texas Feminist

Reading, Writing, and Revolution makes a major contribution to our understanding of the origins and political development of escuelitas in Texas—their founders, teachers, and curriculum. This engaging historical narrative reveals, with incredible detail and nuance, evidence of the Mexican community’s long-standing efforts for self-determination and their struggles to provide their children with the best education possible, on their own terms.”
David G. García, University of California, Los Angeles, author of Strategies of Segregation: Race, Residence and the Struggle for Educational Equality


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3M Cloud Library/bibliotheca