WALKOUT!!

In March 1968 thousands of Chicana and Chicano students boycotted their schools in protest of racism and educational inequity.  Shouting “Walkout! Walkout!” more than ten thousand students disrupted the normal business of their school day by physically leaving and gathering outside in unity to make their statement of rights.

Striking students presented this list of demands to the LA Board of Education.

  1. No student or teacher to be reprimanded or suspended for participating in the recent demonstrations.
  2. Compulsory bilingual and bicultural education in all East Los Angeles schools, with teachers and administrators to receive training in speaking Spanish and Mexican cultural heritage.
  3. Teachers and administrators who show any form of prejudice toward students, including failure to recognize cultural traditions, will be transferred.
  4. Textbooks and curriculum should be revised to show Mexican contributions to society, to show injustices they have suffered and to concentrate on Mexican folklore.
  5. Class size must be reduced so teachers can devote more time to individual students. Team teaching should be used.
  6. Counselor-student ratios must be reduced and counselors must speak Spanish and have a knowledge of Mexican cultural heritage.
  7. The schools’ guidance program for counseling students on post-high school endeavors must be improved.
  8. Students must not be grouped into slow, average and rapid ability groups and classes based on the poor tests currently in use which often mistake a language problem with lack of intelligence. A more effective testing system for determining IQ must be developed.
  9. Only “pass or fail” grades shall be used, and students shall be advised of their grade progress monthly.
  10. Any teacher with a high percentage of dropouts from his or her classes will be identified to students and the community.
  11. Schools should have managers to supervise maintenance to allow administrators to concentrate on educational matters.
  12. New teachers should be required to live in the community where they teach during their probationary period.
  13. School facilities should be made available for community activities and recreation programs developed for children.
  14. No teacher will be dismissed or transferred because of his or her political or philosophical views.
  15. Community parents will be engaged as teacher’s aides.
  16. The industrial arts program must be revitalized to provide training for entry into industry; modern equipment and techniques must be provided.
  17. New high schools in the area must be built with renaming of existing schools after Mexican heroes to establish community identity.
  18. All condemned buildings will be razed and new structures erected.
  19. Library facilities must be expanded at all East Los Angeles high schools, and more library materials will be provided in Spanish.
  20. Open-air student eating areas should be roofed.
  21. Student lounges with jukeboxes should be provided and operated by paid students.
  22. All campuses will be open and fences removed.
  23. School janitorial services should be restricted to employees and not assigned to students as punishment.
  24. Corporal punishment, which is carried out only in East Los Angeles schools, should be abolished throughout the district.
  25. Teacher proficiency will be rated by students.
  26. Students should have access to any type of literature on campus.
  27. Students who help teachers should be paid or given credit.
  28. Students must be allowed to invite guest speakers to club meetings without approval.
  29. Dress and grooming standards will be determined by students, parents and teachers. Only administration-controlled student body officers, PTA representatives and teachers now do this.
  30. Student unions should be provided and run by students, and free speech areas designated on campuses.
  31. Student body offices should be open to all students and a high grade average not considered a prerequisite for eligibility.
  32. Restrooms should be open to students.
  33. Lighted athletic fields should be provided at Lincoln, Wilson and Franklin high schools.
  34. Cafeteria menus should have more Mexican dishes and mothers should be allowed to help prepare the food.
  35. All East Side schools should have swimming pools.
  36. All school athletic activities should be free.
  37. Student suspensions will be made by area superintendents instead of principals in order to prevent indiscriminate use of this action.
  38. Presentation of non-academic programs at the expanse of class time should be prohibited.
(From Jack McCurdy, “Demands Made by East Side High School Students Listed,” Los Angeles Times, March 17, 1968, pp. 1, 4, and 5.)

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