The Civil Rights movement, during the 1960s and 1970s, created many
changes for both American society and its schools. The transformations were
the result of such movements as Bilingual Education, womens rights activity,
and the passing of the Public Law 94-142 legislation. The incorporation of these
new laws and ideas into society all came with their own consequences. Each of
them helped, in some way, to lessen the inequality of minority groups in America,
like students whose primary language was not English, women, and
handicapped children. They also faced opposition by certain groups, who did not
feel that their inclusion in American life was necessary.
Those fighting for the
minorities, though, were steadfast in their efforts, and made many successful
The Bilingual Education movement in America began in the late 1960s. It
was made to be an important issue due to the fact that many Spanish-speaking
children were attending schools that only included the English language in their
curriculum. This resulted in low academic achievement rates for the students.
Bilingual education programs were developed to try to resolve this dilemma in
the American schools. In these programs, teaching was given in both Spanish
and English. Some attempts were eventually made to set a standard for the
bilingual education and make it a nationally recognized idea.
The Bilingual Education Act, passed by Congress in 1968, made an
approach to legitimize the instruction of non-English speaking children (U & W,
317). It did not set any standards though, so how well the act was observed was
basically left up to whose arguments were stronger–the opposers or the
defenders. The Supreme Court popularized the issue in 1974, in the Lau vs.
Nichols case. This case involved Chinese American children in San Francisco
who spoke little or no English (ibid.).
Those fighting for the children wanted
them to receive extra attention in teaching English. After the Supreme Court
ruled in favor of the children, various proposals were given to attempt to solve
The inclusion of bilingual education in Americas schools curriculum
brought about different ideas on how to resolve the issue. The first of these
approaches suggested that there be a special curriculum for non-English
speakers, so that they can concentrate on learning the English language. The
second involved taking non-English speaking students out of regular classrooms
until they learned the language fully. The third approach, bilingual education,
suggested teaching the students native language and English equally.
According to Urban and Wagoner in American Education: A History, advocates
of this last approach sometimes emphasized biculturalism as well and
These attempts were both supported and opposed by various parties.
Those who defended incorporation of bilingual education into American schools
included politicians and other Hispanic leaders, who were trying to prevent
assimilation. Opposers included teachers, Anglo politicians, and some
Hispanic intellectuals, who thought that it was important for the children to
assimilate in to the society (ibid.).
Womens rights activity also became popular in the 1960s, but did not
have many large effects on the schools. Teachers did not want to be involved
with the feminists, and so the activists also distanced themselves from the
teachers. The hard work and determination of the feminists did though, bring
about the passing of the Title IX of the Higher Education Act in 1972 (ibid.
This act instilled gender equality in institutions of higher education, and has
played a monumental role in regulating fairness among the sexes in colleges and
The Title IX continues to aid in maintaining equality between college men
and women, among other things, though there is still work to be done. The act
has been successful supporting attempts to bring more female administrators
into schools. In actuality though, women principals and administrators in schools
and school districts are still scarce (ibid.).
Public Law 94-142, the Education for All Handicapped Children Act, was
an act of legislation passed by Congress in 1972.
It assured that all
handicapped children received equal public education. It also allowed disabled
children to be students in regular classrooms, an idea called mainstreaming
(ibid.). Included in the act, was a development called the individualized
education plan (IEP). This plan was for all handicapped students enrolled in the
program, and it would analyze the childrens progress, as well as any goals that
Public Law 94-142 encountered intense debates from both supporters
and opposers. The children and their parents greatly approved of the special
education program because it provided a much more favorable education than
what they were receiving previously.
They were getting a chance to be educated