Proposed Mexican-American studies textbook decried as ‘racist’ scrapped


A Mexican-American studies textbook proposed for Texas public high schools has been dumped.

The State Board of Education voted unanimously on Friday to exclude “Mexican American Heritage” — a textbook that critics have for months said contained racist passages and factual errors — from a list of recommended textbooks.

“I am gratified that the board members were able to put aside differences about their views of the book and speak in favor of sound structural materials and the well-being of children in public schools,” said Emilio Zamora, a University of Texas history professor who served on a committee appointed by board member Ruben Cortez, D-Brownsville, that reviewed the book.

READ: Does a new Texas textbook whitewash Mexican-American history?

The board gave a preliminary vote on Wednesday to scrap the book with the board’s Vice Chairman Thomas Ratliff, R-Mount Pleasant, declaring that the move wasn’t meant to censor the authors.

Cynthia Dunbar — a former Republican board member who is now head of Momentum Instruction, which published the textbook — said earlier this week that the board would invite a lawsuit if it rejects the book.

She has denied any racist intent with the book and promised that she would address all errors if it were adopted.

She didn’t respond to a request for comment Friday.

The textbook has generated significant controversy since the Texas Education Agency released it online for public review in May.

Among the problems with the book, according to critics, were depictions of early Mexican-American activists as threats to American democracy. The textbook also came under fire for omitting contributions of Mexican-American women through history and suggesting that Mexican-Americans are lazy.

The book’s authors submitted 20 pages of corrections to the Texas Education Agency, including eliminating the reference to the “stereotype of Mexicans working idly,” but Zamora said the authors didn’t significantly address other major concerns that critics had.

One section of the book initially said that communism caused natural disasters. After this error was identified, authors changed the sentence to say communism “left in its wake famine, natural disaster and civil war.”

“Mexican American Heritage” was the only textbook proposed for any ethnic studies subject for the 2017-18 school year.

The board on Friday approved opening bids next year for additional textbooks in Mexican-American studies as well as in other ethnic area studies. The books would go into classrooms in the 2018-19 school year.


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