Local Courses for Ethnic Studies Get Thumbs Up from Texas Ed Board

by Dan Quinn

We just sent out the following press statement after the State Board of Education’s vote today on ethnic studies courses in Texas public schools:

The Texas State Board of Education today voted 12-2 to call for publishers to submit instructional materials next year for locally developed elective courses in Mexican-American, African-American, Asian-American and Native American studies. Districts choosing to offer such courses could do so using the state’s Special Topics in Social Studies curriculum standards. The state board took this action in place of adding an elective course on Mexican-American Studies to the official state curriculum. TFN President Kathy Miller had this to say about today’s vote:

“While we would have preferred a state elective course that recognized the substantial way in which Mexican-Americans, African-American, women and others have shaped Texas and our nation, today’s vote represents an important step toward ensuring that more students get a fuller understanding of our history and the diverse cultures that have shaped it. Just four years ago this board was divided over how or even whether students should learn about American heroes like Cesar Chavez, Thurgood Marshall and Dolores Huerta. So we’re encouraged by this progress, especially as we look ahead to the state board’s adoption of social studies textbooks for our public schools later this year.”

Today’s overwhelming vote makes it easier for local school districts to choose to teach ethnic studies courses. And the vote came despite race-baiting complaints by right-wing groups who attacked efforts to teach such courses in Texas schools.