Why We Need Mexican-American Studies in Texas Schools

by TFN

This week TFN launched #SupportMAS, a campaign to encourage the Texas State Board to add an elective course in Mexican-American studies to the state curriculum. In announcing the campaign, we asked a friend of TFN to explain why the state needs a MAS course. His message is below.

You can add your name to the petition by going to tfn.org/supportMAS.

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By Ruben Garza
I’d like to ask for your support for a Mexican-American studies course in Texas schools. But before I tell you why, let me tell you a little about myself.

I grew up the Rio Grande Valley in south Texas. My days were spent in places like Edinburg and McAllen, but also around communities like San Juan and Hidalgo. We have schools in the Valley named after men called Austin and Travis, and also Gonzalez, De Zavala and Chavez. You’ll find that our streets, neighborhoods and even rivers carry a similar mix of diverse names.

What’s fascinating to me is that you’ll find these names all over much of Texas. Make no mistake, Mexican-Americans helped shape Texas and its history, not just the Valley.

But in my case, I didn’t have a real chance to hear the story behind those names until I made it to college, where a Mexican-American studies program was offered.

Unfortunately, history could be repeating itself for millions of Texas schoolchildren, the majority of whom are Hispanic.

As it stands now, there is no Mexican-American studies course that carries the approval of the Texas State Board of Education. Until that changes, it is unlikely that school districts can offer such a course for its students, robbing them of a vital part of the story of Texas.

But the State Board of Education can make it happen and take an important move toward ensuring Texas students learn about the contributions people from all backgrounds have made to our nation’s history and culture.

The first step in this process is for the chair of the State Board of Education, Barbara Cargill, to bring Mexican-American studies up for consideration as an elective course in the state curriculum at the board’s next meeting in early April.

I ask you to please join me in expressing to Ms. Cargill that you support a Mexican-American studies course in our public schools.

Let’s make sure that students get the complete story of Texas in our schools.

Ruben Garza is a University of Texas-Pan American alum and a community organizer in the Rio Grande Valley.