Latina Lista: News from the Latinx perspective > Life Issues > Education > Latino leadership needed to counter TX State Board of Education’s attempt to write minorities out of history

Latino leadership needed to counter TX State Board of Education’s attempt to write minorities out of history

LatinaLista — The Southern Education Foundation released a report last week, “A New Diverse Majority,” that found, that for the first time in history, more than half of all the students attending public schools in the 15 Southern states (Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Florida, Tennessee, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, Kentucky, Maryland, West Virginia) are children of color — predominantly African American, Hispanic and Native American.

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It’s not a fluke, a misread of the data or even a one-time scenario. It’s an early indication of what the U.S. Census has been forecasting — “By 2042, minorities, now roughly one-third of the U.S. population, are expected to become the majority.”

Seeing that children of color are already the majority in these school districts, and others throughout the rest of the country, it makes what is happening with the Texas’ State Board of Education (SBOE) members voting (tomorrow January 13, 2010) to eliminate Cesar Chavez and all Hispanic historical figures from public school textbooks a sad commentary on just how blatant “white majority,” a.k.a. racism, is allowed to influence and dictate for the whole.

Though the “r” word (racism”) is seen by some as an excuse for one group of people to get their way, in this instance, there’s no other term that accurately describes the comments, as expressed by some SBOE members and their textbook committee review appointees, such as: “there is an over representation of minorities” in the current social studies standards” or that there is “too much emphasis on multiculturalism”.

To the rational thinker, these viewpoints are akin to how we see the Taliban impose their religious ideals in Afghanistan where they have essentially hijacked their country to conform to their religious definition. These SBOE board members, along with their appointees, who adhere to the perspective that it is repugnant to teach children about the historical contributions of Latinos and African Americans show they are no better, and given recent quotes attributed to some who were involved in setting the Social Studies standards, are essentially rewriting U.S. history to conform to their distorted views of how they wish to see the United States.


It’s a big deal for the rest of the country what this “small” group of people decides on what goes in the Social Studies textbooks. Texas is the largest purchaser of the textbooks which means those same textbooks will be reprinted, sold and distributed to most of the nation’s school districts.

In other words, it just won’t be Texas school children whose quality of education will plummet if Social Studies textbooks don’t include contributions of people of color but countless children in numerous states — states whose schools also have majority student bodies comprised of children of color.

The behavior and words of some of these SBOE board members and their like-minded appointees go beyond disturbing and evoke the term “extremists.”

The people on this committee who would like to paint the history of the United States as a country that was built solely on the contributions of white people is beyond ludicrous, but what can we expect from people who think like this:

Bill Ames, for instance, may have been speaking for the elected board’s majority when he tried to push through a standard on “American exceptionalism.” Depending on how it’s interpreted, exceptionalism can mean simply that the country, particularly its founders, did exceptional things. Or it can mean — in a definition endorsed by Ames in his treatise — that America is “not only unique but superior,” that its citizens are “a chosen people, divinely ordained to lead the world to betterment,” and that it is “not destined to rise and fall. Americans will escape ‘the laws of history’ which eventually cause the downfall of all great nations and empires.”

Ames failed to get such notions through the committee. “He believes we’re ordained by God to play this role. It’s like the modern version of Manifest Destiny, which gave us the conquering of the West, the slaughtering of the Indians and all that,” said Julio Noboa, a University of El Paso history professor who served alongside him on the history standards committee.

“He wanted a nice whitewashed view of American history, with no pimples. We said no. Students need to understand there are problems within the capitalist system … Politicians aren’t going to give our rights to us on a silver platter. Democracy is evolutionary.”

Obviously, Ames is bringing a religious component into the text selection process and as we’ve seen in the past, for a public school or general school population, such religious ideals are better left for those textbooks that specifically serve students in schools dedicated to those same religious ideals.

Unfortunately, this man Ames was not the only religious zealot to be appointed to the textbook selection committee. There were others and remarkably, for their Christian ideals that they espoused, they held very unChristian-like views when it came to minorities.

Yet, what is most disturbing is the level of influence of this small group of people who, because of their personal biases, have the power to keep all children from learning just how essential were the roles of people of color in the development of not only the state of Texas but the nation as well.

There is nothing to be gained by such an unAmerican tactic, other than to elevate the position of one particular group of people over another — We have come too far to revert to that way of thinking.

The United Farm Workers, understandably upset that the SBOE wants to eliminate mention of their founder, Cesar Chavez, from these school textbooks, has launched a campaign to counter this gross injustice.

But I have to ask where is NCLR, NALEO, MALDEF, etc. in expressing their outrage and condemnation of such an act? Where is that Latino leadership that seems to only make itself known in Washington?

This is not an incident that impacts just an isolated area; this impacts beyond the Lone Star State and the perceptions of countless children — who will learn that it’s better to be white than a person of color because white people accomplish more, according to history.

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  • cookie
    January 12, 2010 at 7:30 pm

    It doesn’t surprise me that “too much” emphasis has been placed on minorities and multi-culterism in our school’s textbooks. Our schools have been brainwashing our kids with PC crap for years now.
    Are miniorites being eliminted from the textbooks? No, they are not nor was that being stated. Talk about making a mountain out of a molehill!
    Everything used to be about whites and then that all changed to everything being about minorities perhaps they are just looking for a little more balance between the two. Did that ever occur to you?

  • Karen
    January 12, 2010 at 8:05 pm

    This is terrible. If anything, there need to be more Latinos in the history books, not less. People need to take this issue to the national media.
    Sadly, we don’t have any decent leadership. NCLR, etc don’t seem to have anybody on their staff who is media savvy.

  • Rebecca Bell-Metereau
    January 13, 2010 at 11:57 am

    Eight members of the current Board of Education want to exclude Hispanics from the social studies curriculum, with no Mexican American figures to be taught in the first three years. Do they really expect us to believe there are no Hispanic figures who affected Texas history? What about the explorer Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca, who wrote the first book about the exploration of North America? Isn’t this ground-breaking author and explorer a significant historical figure to present to Texas children learning to read and write?
    I am shocked and saddened that we must still battle to teach comprehensive history in Texas of the 21st Century. When I am elected to serve on the State Board of Education for District 5, I will make sure the curriculum represents all people who have contributed to the history of Texas and the United States. Our young people deserve a complete and thorough history, not one limited to a handful of elite figures hand-picked by the current State Board of Education members.

  • Iris Chavez
    January 13, 2010 at 1:51 pm

    LULAC of Texas has come out against this.

  • Alonzo
    January 18, 2010 at 6:40 am

    What did Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca do to make the U.S. what it is today? The answer is, nothing. The reason that such people do not dominate U.S. history books is because they came and went without leaving much of a mark on the landscape. The reason why English and French Explorers and others are in the history books is because they contributed to the founding of this nation, i.e. political and economic transformation through colonization and founding of the U.S. While there were settlers, the Spanish came mainly for one thing, the search for gold and the literal enslavement of the indigenous peoples. As an Amerindian Latino, I hold no illusions as to why things are the way they are, and I won’t pretend otherwise.

  • Marisa Treviño
    January 18, 2010 at 6:54 am

    Alonzo, as is so commonly seen in history, great discoveries were made by accident. That is also true with the conquistadores. By your statement, it’s obvious that you don’t know history as well as you think you do or your agenda is to discredit Latino contributions to this country. Whichever the case, you need to educate yourself just what even the conquistadores contributed to this country in their quest for looking for riches.

  • Evelyn
    January 18, 2010 at 2:07 pm

    Hispanic Contributions to the United States Of America
    American history books acknowledge French contributions to the American victory over the British, but they virtually ignore the substantial Spanish military and financial contributions. For example, the books say nothing about the Spanish ports in Europe and the Caribbean that were safe havens for harassed American ships. Little has been done to commemorate the 4,000 Spanish soldiers who died as prisoners of war on English prison ships in New York Harbor after being captured while fighting for American independence.
    Not until recently was anything said about the Spaniard Bernardo de Galvez, who earned a special place in the history of the United States. Long before war was declared between the Americans and the British, Galvez, who was the Spanish governor of Louisiana Territory, provided the army of General George Washington and General George Rogers Clarke with gunpowder, rifles, bullets, blankets, medicine and supplies. Once Spain entered the war on the side of the Americans in 1779, this dashing young officer raised an army of Spanish and Cuban soldiers, Choctaw Indians and black former slaves, which beat off the British attack in 1780 and gained control of the Mississippi River, thus, frustrating a British plan to encircle the American colonies.
    Later, a multinational army of over 7,000 black and white soldiers under General Galvez’s command captured Pensacola, the capital of the British colony of West Florida. An American historian called this battle “a decisive factor in the outcome of the Revolution and one of the most brilliantly executed battles of the war.” Another historian said that Galvez’s campaign broke the British Army’s will to fight just five months before the last battle of the war at Yorktown.
    After the war, because of the generous assistance that Galvez gave some Anglo Americans who wanted to settle Texas, they named their city after him, Galveston.

  • Alonzo
    January 18, 2010 at 10:13 pm

    Just as others have said here about European colonials subduing natives in what is the U.S., the Spanish took much from Amerindians than they gave. Even today, Unlike the U.S., the Spanish ethnic groups of South America hold natives in contempt, stealing from them and suppressing their political rights. Latinos of South America are seen in some countries as racial bigots and deniers of civil rights. Latinos in the U.S. have suffered nothing in comparison to Amerindians of the past and present. You may be proud of Spanish history, but my family still lives it as a legacy of 15th, 16th and 17th Spanish colonialism. You rail against Anglo discrimination but it’s nothing like that of Spanish bigotry that exists today. That’s the hypocrisy of Latino America.

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