Chicano Movement and the Path to Higher Education (by Melanie Andreo)


Intended Grade Level 11-12th Grade , Common Core Standards (Reading and History/Social Science)

History/ Social Science Content Standard

Common Core Standards: History-Social Science Content Standard

  1. 11.10 Students analyze the development of federal civil rights and voting rights. [Page 52]
  2. 11.11 Students analyze the major social problems and domestic policy issues in
    contemporary American society. [Page 53]

Reading Standards

    Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary that makes clear the relationships among the key details and ideas.
    Evaluate author’s’ differing points of view on the same historical event or issue by assessing the authors’ claims, reasoning, and evidence.
    Integrate and evaluate multiple sources of information presented in diverse formats and media (e.g., visually, quantitatively, as well as in words) in order to address a question or solve a problem.



  •          The purpose of this lesson is to educate students on the Chicano Student Movements, and how it allowed students to speak on the topic of a path to higher education. It is important for students to learn about the Chicano Movement, because it is often eliminated on the United States History Curriculum, but is important in the Civil Rights Movement. It will allow students to comprehend and analyze the spark of the Chicano Movement and why students felt empowered to improve conditions in the school system, which can still be seen today. Going through the Chicano Movement will allow us to claim or voices and hear the stories of those whose lived experiences have been kept hidden, but allow us to understand the contributions they had in this history.                                                    From reading, analyzing, and creating space and activities, the goal is to allow students to take in the information and apply it to real life situations that can create change in the community. This can be in the form of a project and teaching this subject to others, or also creating a movement that will allow for further change to be made in the educational system to improve the percentage of Chicanos making it to higher education.


Essential Understanding

  • Students will understand the Chicano Movement, by going over primary and secondary sources, and getting involved in activities that will allow them to understand the movement in a personal level, while also developing strategies to implement their learning in their communities.



  • How did the Chicano Movement of 1968 impact students ability to attend higher education?
  • What is the significance of the Chicano Movement and Student Unions, how did that improve and inspire Chicano youth to push for better conditions in the educational system?
  • How did Mexican Schools look like, what were the conditions?
  • What is the significance of the students wanting demands, how will that benefit them?
  • Can you think of any similar problems students faced in the 1960s that can be seen today?



Segregation: Practice of enforced separation of different racial groups.

Chicano: A person of Mexican origin or descent. (Definition has changed over time)

Injustice: lack of fairness in behavior or treatment

Demand: insist, made to be right.

Walkout/Blowout: Angry departure in form a protest or a strike.

Bicultural: having or combining the cultural attitudes and customs of two nations, peoples, or ethnic groups.

Higher education: education beyond high school, such as college or university.

Prejudice: Cause harm that results or may result from some action or judgement.

Dropout: a person who has abandoned a course of study or who has rejected conventional society to pursue and alternative lifestyle.

Organize: Put in order/ prepare.

Institutionalized racism: Distribution of resources power and opportunity that benefit people who are white and exclude people of different ethnicity. A system that keeps racist ideals to be kept in place.

Raza: race “designating the strong sense of racial and cultural identity held by Mexican-Americans.”


The Walkouts/Blowouts of 1968 were done in East Los Angeles by a group of Chicano students who were fighting against the unequal and injustices going on in their school district. Chicano students pushed for “demands” in hopes of making sure there was no segregation within the Chicano community. These demands came up after the walkouts and going back and forth with the School District to speak on behalf of the lack  of support from admin towards Chicano students. In total there were 38 demands which range of topics such as the following: having restrooms opened during after school hours, no janitorial punishment, allowing to have student unions that will be funded, having teachers and admin with bilingual and bicultural knowledge, and having classes that will teach them of their own culture. The purpose of these demands is to improve the educational pipeline for Chicanos. During this time majority of Chicanos were not graduating from high school or were also dropping out. This was very important as majority of the students attending the East Los Angeles schools were Chicanos/Latinos. The dropout rate at these schools were more than half.  The percentage of these young Chicanos going to college was very small. This also had to do with the lack of counselors who cared enough for these students, and that the students were able to relate to them. In the same fashion, the materials they would learn in school would not help them improve, because they lacked resources such as college-readiness courses and not enough support from their own teachers. Throughout the process of the Chicano Movement, the students had support from the Mexican-American teacher, Sal Castro. He was in support of the students walking out and worked alongside with them to protest against the inequalities they were facing. While being there at the demonstrations during this movement, Sal Castro was arrested and charged with disrupting public schools and disrupting peace. These movements were also seen in higher education where college students pushed for classes that taught them of their own histories, and allowing students to build unions. The significance of the movement is important in the present time because the fight for pushing Ethnic Studies, allowing Chicanos to attend higher education, pushing for demands to be met can still be seen to be fighting for now. It will allow students to understand and create a problem solving skill than can be useful for exercising rights.




  • : The 1968 Student Walkout that galvanized a national movement for Chicano Rights [Timeline News]                                                         Published: March 13, 2018 / Video Time: 3 minutes 38 seconds
  • : Sal Castro and Students talking about the East LA Walkouts [Esparza / Katz Productions, Olmos Productions, HBO Films, Maya Pictures]                                                                                                                       Published: March 11, 2016 / Video Time: 2 minutes 35 seconds
  • Chicano! PBS Documentary Taking Back The Schools Is Converted [PBS Documentary]                                                                           Published: June 13, 2015 / 10 minutes 42 seconds
  • Theatre of the Oppressed NYC: Sneak Peak


  • Bobby Verdugo Oral History : 1968 Chicano LA Walkouts: Bobby Verdugo & Yoli Rios [Published April 11, 2018] *Make into a document*
  • Theatre of the Oppressed : What is Theatre of the Oppressed?: Mandala Center for Change *Take out key aspect to explain to students that can help students understand the activity*


Day 1 Activity 1: Understanding the Movement

The students will need to create a circle and have a notebook/paper and pen/pencil ready for the following activity. This exercise will allow them to share what they know about the Chicano Movement. It would be great for the teacher to take notes of what they students say, in order to see how they improve after learning more in the future classes.

  1. Ask questions and allows students to write for 5 minutes, and then share with a partner what they wrote for 5 more minutes. [30 minutes total]
    • What is a Chicano?
    • What is the Chicano Movement?
    • What are Mexican-American Schools?
  2. Have a discussion as a collective, allowing students to also share experiences or own family histories that may relate to the movement. (To allow for more student participation, have all students say a sentence about the question; allowing for participation) [25-30 minutes total]


  • Assign Primary Document: Frivolous to Fundamental-Demands Made by East Side High School Students Listed by Jack McCurdy


Day 2 Activity 2: Histories and Voices from the Students and Sal Castro

  1. 1-5 minutes: Allow students to create a circle (allows for a better connection in sharing)
  2. 1-5 minutes: Allow students to share how they felt after reading the article (homework assignment): What stood out? What made you shocked?
  3. Share videos: Allow for students to share after each video, ask if they have any comments or questions. [ 25 minutes total]
    • : The 1968 Student Walkout that galvanized a national movement for Chicano Rights [Timeline News]                        Published: March 13, 2018 / Video Time: 3 minutes 38 seconds
    • : Sal Castro and Students talking about the East LA Walkouts [Esparza / Katz Productions, Olmos Productions, HBO Films, Maya Pictures]                                                                                                  Published: March 11, 2016 / Video Time: 2 minutes 35 seconds
    • Chicano! PBS Documentary Taking Back The Schools Is Converted [PBS Documentary]                                                   Published: June 13, 2015 / 10 minutes 42 seconds
  4. Share article of Bobby Verdugo and Yoli Rios: Read from a Oral History from student organizers during the 1960s. As students how this relates to the videos they watched, and allow for a discussion to happen. [ 25 minutes total]  



Day 3 Activity 3: Theatre of the Oppressed: A Chicano in Education

  • 1-7 minutes: Allow students to create a circle (allows for a better connection in sharing) Explain Theatre of the Oppressed with presented article, allow for students to ask questions for clarification.
  • 1-5 minutes: Allow students to separate into groups and prepare to act out one of these scenarios.
    1. Student asking for money from the School District to have books, student union funding, but come up with the excuse of “Lack of Funds”. Students do nothing [end of play].
    2. White student walks in to speak to counselor, and was told she/he/they should go to college because it “suits them”. Chicano student is next to meet with counselor, and is told that they should not consider going to college and instead join the military or start working, because it “suits them”.  Student leaves [end of play].
    3. Chicano student is in a class and starts to speak Spanish. The teacher ends up punishing the student and mentions how Spanish should not be spoken in school, and ends up embarrassing student. No student says anything about the situation. [end of play].
    4. Teacher gets the student in trouble for speaking spanish and wanting to learn about Chicano History, and is punished by doing janitorial work, students just stare and go on with their day. [end of play].
  • 15-20 minutes: Allow students to start practicing their scenarios.
  • 30 minutes: Have the students act them out and start incorporating students to make the changes in the play.


  • Write a reflection paper (1-2 paragraphs) that explain the connection of the scenarios to the readings and videos the class has watched.
  • Mi Raza Primero (My People First): “The Voice of the Chicano People”: La Raza Unida Party pg 80-97


Day 4 Activity 4: Making a Change in the School Curriculum: Student Voices and Action

  • Create a circle, to allow for students to better interact with each other, while learning and sharing. The purpose of this activity is to allow students to understand the Chicano Movement, but applying it to the present time. There were demands made by the student organizers that are present in schools where students of color are the majority.
  • Using the reading Frivolous to Fundamental-Demands Made by East Side High School Students Listed by Jack McCurdy and Mi Raza Unida Party, allow for a discussion
  1. What is needed to make a successful club where students are the leaders?
  2. What are some problems you see in your school? How can you improve the conditions of your school?
  3. What are Mexican Schools?
  4. How will improving the school help students graduate and go to college?
  5. What is needed for a student to go to college?
  6. Do you feel prepared to attend higher education? If you do, what has made you prepared? If you do not, why not?


  • Write a reflection that explains what you have learned this passed week, how this relates to you or where you come from, and potential solutions to make a change.


Additional Sources

*Additional Sources can also be found on Material