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Opinion: Latinos Are The New Majority in CA, But Not In Our Textbooks

By Jose Lara
La Prensa San Diego

It’s official. Latinos now make up the largest ethnic group in California. They surpassed Whites for the first time since California was part of Mexico.

However, the same is not true about our curriculum. Attempts to make our curriculum more diverse came in the late 1970’s, but stopped short. As Professor at CSU Monterey Bay, Christine E. Sleeter, stated in her study, The Academic and Social Benefits of Ethnic Studies, “As national concern shifted towards standards and accountability, efforts to make curricula multicultural subsided.” Many think that this issue has been taken care of in the past. But it hasn’t.

One only has to look at the History Social Studies Framework for California Public Schools to see the problem as Dr. Sleeter explains, “Of the 96 Americans who were named for study in the framework’s course descriptions, there are 77 percent White, 18 percent African American, 4 percent Native American, 1 percent Latino and 0 percent Asian American.” The truth is, that despite being a majority in the state, Latinos are largely invisible in our curriculum and others are sorely absent. Our curriculum is dominated by a largely Euro-Centric point of view.

This sends the wrong message to our youth and our community; the message that Latino history, culture and contributions to our society do not matter and that the only ones who do are White. However, White and other students are also who are robbed when we leave whole communities out of our curriculum.

When we leave out Latinos, we miss the history of people like labor union leader Emma Tenaycua, who fought for labor rights long before Cesar Chavez (Who seems to be the only Latino ever mentioned in our textbooks). Students also never learn about Chicano Civil Rights Leaders like Rodolfo “Corky” Gonzalez who fought for political representation and better education for Latinos. Lastly, the stories and contributions of Latina…

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