Using literature review, archival analysis, and Interviews Anthony De Jesús and Madeline Pérez authors of the article entitled From Community Control to Consent Decree: Puerto Ricans Organizing for Education and Language Rights in 1960s and ‘70s New York City published by El Centro de Estudios Puertorriqueños of Hunter College in NY, presents the historical background that gave rise to a new level of community activism. This article describes major events, organizations, and individuals who advanced the educational rights of Puerto Ricans in New York City during the 1960s and 1970s. The post-WWII migration of Puerto Ricans introduced a new political battleground to the city’s schools—that of language rights, which were linked to the continuing struggle over the governance of public schooling in a multiracial, multicultural, and multilingual city and nation. The organizing and political activity of Puerto Ricans during this period resulted in unprecedented policies, structures, and institutions designed to fully incorporate them into the economic and political life of the city.
Along the years, ASPIRA has needed to take legal action for protecting end ensuring access to quality education for our youth. The following are two of the most important legal actions.
- The ASPIRA of New York Consent Decree: ASPIRA of New York, with the support of ASPIRA of America and the representation of the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund, filed a suit against the New York City Board of Education in 1972 that led to the ASPIRA Consent Decree. The decree, signed August 29, 1974, established the right of New York City public school students with limited English proficiency to receive bilingual education.
- The ASPIRA of Pennsylvania Consent Decree and Order: Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission (“PHRC”) representing ASPIRA of Pennsylvania, initiated a complaint against the School District of Philadelphia (“District”) on October 8, 1970, alleging that the District was unlawfully segregated by race in violation of the PHRA and filed an order enforcement petition (“Petition”) in the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania (“Commonwealth Court” or “Court”), Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission v. School District of Philadelphia, No. 1056 C.D. 1973. After over 30 years of litigation the Court ordered the District to implement the Five-Year Strategic Plan entitled Imagine 2014, subject to available funding and as is consistent with law, in a manner consistent with the following “guiding principles” set forth in Imagine 2014:
· Increasing achievement and closing the opportunity and achievement· gap for all students;· Ensuring the equitable allocation of all District resources;· Holding all adults accountable for student outcomes; and· Satisfying parents, students and the community