#RejectTheText

by Dan Quinn

Today the State Board of Education heard public testimony about the error-plagued, deeply offensive Mexican American Heritage textbook proposed for Texas public schools. Tuesday morning the Texas Freedom Network helped organize a press conference featuring widely respected scholars and community advocates who called on the state board to #RejectTheText. Here’s the press release we sent out on behalf of the Responsible Ethnic Studies Textbook Coalition:

COALITION OF SCHOLARS, ACTIVISTS CALLS ON TEXAS STATE BOARD OF EDUCATION TO REJECT MEXICAN AMERICAN HERITAGE TEXTBOOK

Publisher Fails to Correct Numerous Errors, Other Serious Flaws, Scholars Say

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 15, 2016

AUSTIN – Scholars and grassroots activists once again call on the State Board of Education (SBOE) to reject a controversial Mexican-American studies textbook proposed for Texas public schools because the book is seriously flawed.

“In our considered opinion as scholars, we find that the textbook continues to commit serious errors and does not meet other basic expectations,” said Emilio Zamora, a professor of history at the University of Texas at Austin. “Students’ textbooks must be free of factual errors and based on sound scholarship. This textbook, which was not authored by scholars in the field of Mexican-American Studies, fails that test.”

Zamora worked with 27 scholars in reviewing publisher Momentum Instruction’s responses to their numerous findings of errors in the Mexican American Heritage textbook. Cynthia Dunbar, herself a controversial former SBOE member, heads Momentum Instruction.

The scholars’ early review of the textbook in September identified scores of factual errors, offensive racial stereotypes and other serious flaws. Zamora and his colleagues have conducted a second review of the publishers’ responses and point out that the authors have not corrected many of the original errors and have even introduced new ones in proposed revisions.

Trinidad Gonzales, a history professor at South Texas College and American Historical Association Teaching Division Councilor, spoke along with Zamora at a Tuesday morning press conference and called on the SBOE to ask for more publishers to submit Mexican-American studies textbooks for consideration. In addition, he said state lawmakers and the board should develop a comprehensive plan for incorporating ethnic studies courses into Texas public schools.

“The problem with this textbook is that Latino students are instructed to reject their culture and heritage, and it teaches non-Latino students to do the same,” Gonzales said. “As educators we should not be in the business of teaching hate. The acceptance or rejection of the textbook is not simply an academic question – it is a moral question.”

At the same press conference, Tony Diaz with the advocacy group Librotraficante and Houston students who take Mexican-American studies classes delivered petitions with about 15,500 signatures calling on the state board to reject the textbook.

The board holds its last scheduled public hearing on the textbook today and is set to vote whether to adopt the text for the state’s public schools this week.

Zamora, Gonzales and Diaz are among the scholars, activists and advocacy groups that have come together in the Responsible Ethnic Studies Textbook Coalition, which is opposed to the adoption of Mexican American Heritage. The REST Coalition website is MASforTexas.org.

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