Who Is Behind the Controversial Mexican-American Studies Text?

by Jose Medina

REST CoalitionOn Monday, TFN joined with a numerous other Texas organizations to counter Mexican American Heritage, a proposed textbook for Texas public schools which Mexican-American studies scholars and experts have found to be deeply offensive, simplistic and rife with factual errors.

Take action: MASforTexas.org

So who wrote the textbook? And what qualifications do they have? While the text lists several authors and contributors, little is known about what qualifications or background in Mexican-American studies the named individuals may hold, if any at all. In fact, it is standard practice for textbook publishers to list authors’ expertise in a textbook, and Mexican American Heritage does not include that information.

Here is what we know about the owner of the company — Momentum Instruction — behind the book, and its authors.

CYNTHIA DUNBAR, CEO and owner of Momentum Instruction, and a contributor to the Mexican American Heritage textbook

  • Member of the Texas State Board of Education (SBOE) for one term, 2007-2011, and later an assistant law professor at Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University in Virginia, where she also served as state co-chair of Texas Sen. Ted Cruz’s presidential campaign.
  • Dunbar proved to be one of the SBOE’s most divisive members as part of the board’s far-right bloc. During her tenure, she published a book, One Nation Under God: How the Left is Trying to Erase What Made us Great, in which she refers public schools as “unconstitutional,“ “tyrannical” and a “subtly deceptive tool of perversion.”
  • Dunbar played a leading role in helping rewrite the current social studies curriculum standards for Texas public schools. The Thomas B. Fordham Institute, a conservative think tank, has sharply criticized those standards, calling them a “politicized distortion of history.”
  • Dunbar has insisted that separation of church and state is not a key constitutional principle. While on the SBOE, she successfully led opposition to a proposed requirement that Texas public school students learn how the nation’s founders protected religious freedom by barring government from promoting one particular religion over all others.
  • Dunbar helped lead the charge to undermine the teaching of evolution in science textbooks and classrooms.
  • Dunbar holds a bachelor’s in biology and a law degree from the University of Missouri-Kansas City and Pat Robertson’s Regent University, respectively. It is unclear what, if any, expertise she has in Mexican-American studies.

JAIME RIDDLE, listed as one of two authors of Mexican American Heritage

  • According to her LinkedIn profile, Riddle earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Duke University and a master’s in education from Regent University. Her expertise in the subject of Mexican-American studies is unclear.
  • Riddle’s LinkedIn profile lists seven years of experience as a freelance blogger and boasts of having earned the status of an Amazon.com Top 1000 reviewer in 2013.
  • On her LinkedIn profile, Riddle notes that her book reviews focused on “exposing subtle anti-Western themes in popular children’s literature,” with a “particular emphasis on socialist, anti-modern, and anti-American motifs” and “revisionist history.”

VALARIE ANGLE, second of two listed authors of Mexican American Heritage

  • According to her LinkedIn profile, Angle holds a bachelor’s of science degree in early childhood education from the University of Central Florida, a master’s in leadership studies from Hollins University and a specialist in education degree from Virginia Tech. Like Riddle, the source of Angle’s expertise in Mexican-American studies – if any – is unclear.
  • Angle’s work experience includes teaching and serving as an instructional coach, infant toddler development specialist, principal at a Christian academy and a wellness advocate.
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