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De Colores was directly involved with the Serna family in the famous landmark case of Serna v. Portales in 1974. The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in New Mexico found
“undisputed evidence that Spanish surnamed students do not reach the achievement levels attained by their Anglo counterparts (1).”
The court ordered Portales Municipal Schools to design an educational plan that addressed national origin minority students’ needs by implementing a bilingual and bicultural curriculum, reviewing testing procedures to assess achievement in that curriculum, and recruiting and hiring bilingual school personnel.
After this case was decided in New Mexico, other federal court decisions in regard to education and limited English-speaking students applied the same order to all school districts receiving federal funds. Even schools with just a few students who are challenged with the English language are not exempt from providing bilingual education.
One of our missions for 2010 is to honor the survivors of the Serna family for opening the doors to bilingual education - first to New Mexico, then to the rest of the States in the Union. This was an unprecedented time in history which branched out and touched several other minority classes in America and it began right here in New Mexico!
Judy Serna, accompanied by her sisters accepted the Lifetime Achievement Award on October 15, 2010. The Sernas spoke at the banquet. Everyone at the banquet was touched by their powerful feelings and emotions about this case and the impact it had on the world. Once again we congratulate and extend our heartfelt thanks to the Serna family who challenged the education department, forcing a change to accomodate and provide equal rights to all Hispanic children of New Mexico, and the United States.
(1) The Mid-Atlantic Equity Center,