SAN ANTONIO, TX – Today, MALDEF congratulated the Texas State Board of Education (SBOE) for its approval of a measure asking publishers to develop instructional materials for locally developed courses next year in Mexican American, African American, Native American, and Asian American Studies. The 12-2 SBOE vote allows public schools to use these materials to teach ethnic studies courses under the Special Topics in Social Studies curriculum standards.

“Well-designed and well-resourced ethnic studies courses are a proven tool to begin to reduce the education gap faced by minority students. The SBOE has taken a positive step toward facilitating access to such courses for students throughout Texas,” stated Thomas A. Saenz, MALDEF President and General Counsel.

Adoption of this week’s proposal reflects a bright spot in SBOE history, especially given attempts in recent years to minimize contributions of heroes such as Cesar Chavez and Thurgood Marshall. The SBOE should continue to take actions that value, and do not demean, the state’s Latino and other minority students, who comprise over 70 percent of all Texas school children.

Although Texas school districts are currently able to offer ethnic studies courses, most do not because they lack the resources or expertise to develop such classes. Under the new rule, Texas schools that choose to teach one or more ethnic studies courses would have access to instructional materials made available by the state. Additionally, Texas residents will have the opportunity to review any proposed instructional materials submitted by publishers to ensure their accuracy.

“The SBOE took a step in the right direction this week by pushing publishers to develop texts that are inclusive of the experiences of historically marginalized groups in Texas,” said Celina Moreno, MALDEF legislative staff attorney. “Students of color should be able to see the contributions that minorities have made in all fields and disciplines reflected in their classroom texts.”

MALDEF and its partners in the Texas Latino Education Coalition continue to call for larger structural changes in curriculum development and textbook adoption for a more inclusive public education system in Texas. Accordingly, the SBOE must prioritize multiculturalism and cultural relevance when developing the entire core curriculum.