When the Texas State Board of Education, in a surprising move, decided to introduce Mexican-American studies in public schools, where majority of students are Hispanics, activists thought it was a step in the right direction. After all, it is important for everyone to know about their cultural and ethnic history.
However, when the education agency finally released samples of the textbooks submitted for board’s approval for 2017 curriculum, the book listed under “Special Topics in Social Studies” wasn’t what most Mexican-Americans had hoped for.
“Mexican American Heritage” is a 500-page book featuring a picture of an Aztec dancer on its cover. Apparently, it is the first title from a publisher called Momentum Instruction, which does not have much of an online presence. Also, it is predominantly written by white writers, including former member of State Board of Education, Cynthia Dunbar.
Dunbar, who served on the board 2007 to 2010, is known for removing Thomas Jefferson from a list of influential philosophers in the World History standards.
As for “Mexican American Heritage,” it focuses more on the separate histories of Mexico and America than Mexican-Americans' history, which it was supposed to address. It also conspicuously leaves out issues like civil and labor rights until the end of the book.
Some material from the book is also highly offensive and inaccurate.
“Chicanos, on the other hand, adopted a revolutionary narrative that opposed Western civilization and wanted to destroy this society,” reads one passage. “Chicano” is a term used in old sociology books to describe Hispanics.
While a passage on “Latin Literature” features Colombian writer Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Chilean-American Isabel Allende and the Brazilian Pablo Coelho, who wrote in Portuguese, are also featured.
The board meets next in November to finalize the textbooks. However, even though “Mexican American Heritage” is the only book of its kind to be proposed, according to a 2011 law, school districts are at liberty to choose whichever books they want. Since a number of schools have reportedly constructed their own courses on Mexican-American history, there is still a chance that children won’t be forced to read how their ancestors and forefathers wanted to destroy the country they are living in.
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