By Bill Moreno
Educators celebrated a significant win last week after the Texas State Board of Education rejected a flawed Mexican American Heritage textbook.
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A coalition of more than two dozen influential organizations from throughout Texas collaborated to mobilize hundreds of educators, parents, students, and lawmakers. They were concerned that the misrepresentation of Mexican Americans would have a negative effect on Latino students, comprising more than half of the state’s enrolled students. In addition to the potential student harm, Texas has long commanded strong influence in the publishing industry because of its large share of the public school textbook market. This influence has swayed publishers’ content decisions, which has seeped into other states’ texts.
Speaking for Texas State Teachers Association, President Noel Candelaria said, “We are glad to see that the board reached overwhelming agreement that the adoption of a textbook that misrepresents an entire people is irresponsible. We look forward to future opportunities to support a responsibly developed ethnic studies curriculum for the students of Texas.”
Education Austin’s President, Ken Zafaris added, “While stopping these lies and stereotypes that damage the truth of Mexican American history is a great victory, we must continue to fight to demand that ethnic studies and the truth of our collective histories are taught in all Texas schools.”
“It has been an uplifting victory for all educators, professors, and organizations, but most importantly for our children who are the future of our country. It is an example that when the community organizes and works together, we can change the path of our future,” said Education Austin’s Vice President, Montserrat Garibay. University of Texas at Austin graduate student Alonzo Mendoza Gil, a community organizer who worked with Garibay, concurred. “The Mexican American community stood together against this factually false and disrespectful book, and we are glad that the Texas Board of Education voted it down.”
Going forward, educators will be instrumental to the selection of a textbook that will teach students about the real history of Mexican Americans. “We have a chance to write that history now and make it part of what Texas students learn,” said Education Austin member and elementary curriculum specialist, Patricia Nuñez. “Mexican American students will learn that they come from a people and culture that is rich and has contributed so much for which they should be proud. That’s why the Board’s action was so important.”
National Education Association Affiliates, Texas State Teachers Association and Education Austin, joined the Texas Freedom Network and Mexican American Studies for Texas, among others, to provide expert testimony and support.