SAN ANTONIO, TX – Texas education officials on Wednesday said no to a controversial Mexican American Studies textbook, in a 14-0 preliminary vote.
The move by the Texas State Board of Education (SBOE) to reject Mexican American Heritage comes amid criticism from experts, civil rights group and community organizations who say the textbook promotes offensive cultural stereotypes, distorts history and is plagued by factual errors.
The Responsible Ethnic Studies Textbook Coalition, a group of organizations from across Texas including MALDEF (Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund) and other members of the scholarly, education, business, labor and civil rights communities, have repeatedly called on the SBOE to reject the text. A final vote by the SBOE is scheduled for Friday.
“This unanimous vote is a very encouraging development,” said Thomas A. Saenz, MALDEF president and general counsel. “Our nation cannot unite or thrive without acknowledging and teaching full and accurate history, including those periods when the nation failed to live up to its shared principles of equality and justice.”
“Recent post-election reports of anti-Latino, anti-immigrant bullying in schools exemplify the importance of rejecting ignorance-filled textbooks that can lead to bullying and a toxic learning environment,” said Celina Moreno, a legislative staff attorney with MALDEF.
In 2014, the SBOE invited publishers to submit textbooks for high school social studies electives in Mexican American, African American and other ethnic studies. The only book submitted for consideration was Mexican American Heritage.
According to scholars in U.S. history and culture, the text has hundreds of problems and inaccuracies, including passages describing Native and Mexican Americans as threats to U.S. society and downplaying the role of slavery in the history of the Civil War.
Mexican American Heritage largely erases Mexican American women from the history and culture the book poorly attempts to narrate. Scholarly reviews describing the errors and omissions are available at MASforTexas.org. One comprehensive review concludes that the book fails to meet the professional standards and guiding principles for a text worthy of Texas classrooms and is a “polemic attempting to masquerade as a textbook.”
Recent research from the University of Arizona and Stanford University shows that well-designed and well-taught Mexican American Studies courses lead to increases in overall academic performance and social outcomes such as graduation rates for students taking those classes. While Latinos comprise the majority of Texas public school students and stand to benefit from a high-quality Mexican American Studies curriculum, all students deserve to learn from texts that promote critical thinking, not a reinforcement of degrading stereotypes.
For more information regarding MALDEF’s position on the textbook Mexican American Heritage, please click HERE.