State board to discuss new high school Mexican-American studies course

Jan 28, 2018
A Houston middle school student speaks out against the factual errors in a proposed Mexican-American studies textbook in November 2016. RALPH BARRERA/AMERICAN-STATESMAN

The State Board of Education on Tuesday will discuss creating a Mexican-American studies course for high school students. The discussion comes after the board rejected two proposed Mexican-American studies textbooks over the past two years.

Here is how the board got to this point:

Course proposed before : Instead of creating a statewide Mexican-American studies course as a high school elective in 2014, a divided board opted to offer school districts recommended textbooks for such a course and other ethnic studies areas.

Districts allowed to offer course: In 2015, the board approved allowing districts to implement a high school Mexican-American studies course, which only a handful did. The board at the time did not create curriculum standards for Mexican-American studies, and activists said that left many school districts unclear about how to create such a course.

A textbook criticized as racist: Scholars criticized the proposed textbook, “Mexican American Heritage,” calling it racist. The book described the Chicano movement as an effort to reconquer the United States and immigrant neighborhoods as riddled with crime. The board rejected the book in 2016.

Another textbook rejected: In November, the board rejected a second Mexican-American studies textbook. A panel of teachers and scholars appointed by the board found more than 50 errors in the book, written by Tony Diaz, a Houston-area activist and Mexican-American studies professor.