Martha Cotera

As Interviewed By Samantha Cotera, 3/1/2018

Martha Cotera: In Her Own Words

This pretty dumb boy that had just moved into our city and our class. He was really nice, Reginald Sanders, but not very smart. He and I got the same test papers in math. And she automatically assumed that I had copied from him. And she left him in the top math group and put me in the bottom group. And I learned from that tracking that once you get put in a bottom group, itís very hard to catch up. Itís very, very, very difficult. And that was the saddest thing and most life-defining thing that ever happened to me, because I loved math. But from then on I was always behind, always behind, always behindÖ Because you get tracked and then you put... I finally caught up in high school where I was able to take algebra. But it took me a long, long time to catch up and I thought it was very sad.

We had other issues in the school but actually teachers were pretty good and I didnít have any realÖ Well, we had some race issues with the students, because we still had two water fountains -- one for colored people and one for white people, supposedly. And we had this one girl that moved in from the south and she thought that Mexicans ought to be drinking water from the colored people water fountain in elementary school. Unfortunately she got treated very roughly when she tried to get Mexican girls to drink from the colored water fountain. Not me! Because I just thought that at that point, these little things... I thought sheís going to learn. Somebodyís going to tell her. So elementary was pretty good.