The State Board of Education on Tuesday heard from several dozen supporters of a new elective course on Mexican-American Studies for Texas public schools. The board will begin a formal discussion of the proposal, as well as other possible new courses, today. A final vote on the issue is scheduled for Friday. The Texas Freedom Network sent out the following press release Tuesday afternoon.
MEXICAN-AMERICAN STUDIES COURSE WOULD BE AN IMPORTANT STEP TOWARD TEACHING THE FULL HISTORY OF AMERICA
TFN President Calls on SBOE to Add MAS Course to State Curriculum
An elective Mexican-American Studies course would be an important step toward teaching public school students the full history of our nation, Texas Freedom Network President Kathy Miller said today.
“Right now there are more than 200 elective courses in the state curriculum, including classes on topics like floral design and web gaming,” Miller said. “In a state where the majority of public school students are Hispanic, surely there is room for an elective course that teaches students how Mexican-Americans have helped shape our nation’s history. And this is especially important just a few years after this state board actually debated whether Texas students should learn about revered Hispanic Americans like Cesar Chavez, Dolores Huerta and Sonia Sotomayor.”
During the debate over new social studies curriculum standards in 2009-10, the board voted to strike Huerta from the standards for third grade social studies. An adviser appointed by the board also argued that Chavez wasn’t an appropriate role model for public school students.
More than 2,300 Texans have already signed on to a petition calling on the State Board of Education add an elective course on Mexican-American studies to the state curriculum.
The adoption of a Mexican-American Studies course would also open the door to discussion of similar courses, such as African-American Studies and Women’s Studies, Miller said.
Teaching about Hispanic-Americans, other ethnic minorities and women was a big part of the debate over new social studies textbooks in 2002 as well as the social studies curriculum standards in 2010. It will almost certainly be a big part of the debate over new social studies textbooks that the state board will consider for adoption this year.
“What has been clear through all of these debates is that the contributions Mexican-Americans as well as African-Americans, women and others have made to the history of our state and nation still get far too little attention in our classrooms,” Miller said. “Now Texas can be a model for recognizing and embracing our nation’s diversity.”
A growing number of organizations – such as LULAC, the Mexican-American School Board Members Association, and the National Association of Chicana and Chicano Studies – as well as school districts – including Houston ISD and Ysleta ISD – have called for approval of a Mexican-American Studies course for Texas students. ( A full list of organizations is below.)
In addition, 39 members of the Texas House of Representatives and 11 state Senators have signed on to letters calling on the state board to approve a Mexican-American Studies course.
Research, including a 2012 study from the University of Arizona, has shown that courses in Mexican-American Studies can help improve students’ academic performance and make it more likely that they will graduate.
Organizations Supporting a Mexican-American Studies Course in Texas
· Texas Latino Education Coalition
· Texas NAACP
· Mexican-American School Board Members Association
· National Association for Chicano and Chicana Studies
· Texas State Teachers Association
· Houston Independent School District
· Ysleta Independent School District
· 39 members of the Texas House of Representatives have signed a letter calling on the State Board of Education to add Mexican-American Studies to the state curriculum.
· 11 members of the Texas Senate have signed a letter calling on the State Board of Education to add Mexican-American Studies to the state curriculum.