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After ‘Racist’ Textbook Debate, Mexican-American Studies Educators, Advocates Convene in Texas

By Natalie Gross
Latino Ed Beat

It’s been a month since a proposed textbook for Mexican-American studies courses in Texas spurred widespread controversy over allegations of racism and inaccuracy, and ethnic studies advocates who convened at a 200-person summit in San Antonio Saturday are prepared to fight the book’s presence in the state’s public schools.

“We will be fighting to deny this book until we are red in the face,” said State Board of Education member Marisa Perez, D-San Antonio, according to the local news site Rivard Report. “We understand that what we’re up against is an intentional changing of our history, and we want to make sure that people know that we recognize it and that we’re not going to stand for it.”

The summit, which focused on the implementation of ethnic studies in Texas schools, was planned before the disputed “Mexican American Heritage” was made public in May. Still, the controversy made for talking points throughout the day, The Texas Tribune reports, as participants considered a future in which the textbook — the only one for Mexican-American elective courses that has been submitted to the SBOE for approval — is the only state-sanctioned option for schools.

If the State Board of Education votes in November to adopt the textbook, it would become part of the list of recommended instructional materials that school districts can choose from starting in the 2017-18 school year. Even if the book is approved, however, schools would not be obligated to use it. And already, educators have begun to write and circulate alternative instructional materials.

“Mexican American Heritage,” released by the company of former right-wing SBOE member Cynthia Dunbar, was written by authors who are not recognized in the field of Mexican-American studies, experts have claimed. Among the faults many have found with it include is the description of Mexican Americans as people who opposed Western civilization and wanted to destroy this society. Besides that, as the Texas Observer reports, “little attention is given to the history of Mexican-American people.”

“The onus is partly on us,” a professor at San Antonio College, which hosted the summit, told the Observer. “We should’ve put something together and we didn’t,” she said, adding that advocates have learned their lesson.

For more information on the “Mexican American Heritage” controversy and the research around Mexican-American studies, check out this post I wrote last month.

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