Victory of Sorts on MAS

My initial reaction.

My initial reaction.

Well, the tweets and the chisme will tell you that the State Board of Education voted to add courses in Mexican American and other U.S. ethnic group studies by a score of 11 to 3. Sounds pretty huge, right?

I started watching the debate this afternoon and found out there had been a change to the proposal and much was being said about that dreaded term of which I am not a fan, “local control.” After a little and not so contentious debate, it passed easily, but I couldn’t help but ask:  What just passed? Bottom line:  It’s a step, but far from what is needed, which is full inclusion in the overall curriculum.

Nonetheless, a big DC tip of the Sombrero to the #LibrotraficanteNation, el Librotraficante Tony Diaz, and the entire crew for doing all of the leg work. It’s not easy to convince such a contentious board to move forward on something like Mexican American studies, and the work and hours they put in is to be respected and commended.

Although NBC had some of the story, The Trib had a better description of the events.

Instead of making Mexican-American studies an official high school course, the Texas State Board of Education has settled on a tentative compromise that would allow school districts to decide whether to offer the course.

“It wasn’t necessarily what we were hoping, with a stand-alone course for Mexican-American studies,” member Marisa Perez, a San Antonio Democrat, said in an interview after the meeting. “But it’s definitely a step in the right direction.”

In an 11-3 vote, board members added the class — along with African-American studies, Native American studies and Asian-American studies — to the list of instructional materials that publishers will develop for Texas social studies standards in the 2016-17 school year. That means schools will have a list of state-approved textbooks and other resources to choose from if they opt to give the class.

My friend and fellow Bobcat Joe Cardenas passed this statement along from HOPE:

Texas HOPE (Hispanics Organized for Political Education) welcomes the opportunity to implement a greater understanding and exposure of the contributions made by Mexican Americans in the establishment and development of Texas through the fostering of Mexican American Studies in public schools throughout the state. Texas HOPE and its sister organizations have long called for the inclusion of the role of Mexican Americans in the History of Texas so that a comprehensive and accurate accounting of the impact of the Mexican American community may be better appreciated by all Texans especially the millions of students throughout the classrooms of the state. Organizations such as MALDEF, the Hector P. Garcia American GI Forum Org. of Texas, Texas LULAC, and Texas HOPE have actively advocated in the past before the SBOE and its committees as well as the Senate and House Education committees for a more “truthful” History of Texas in the state’s adoption process of textbooks and development of curriculum. These organizations have been successful in their advocacy leading to the inclusion in Texas’ Social Studies books of Dr. Hector P. Garcia, the Green Flag Republic, Jose, Bernardo Gutierrez de Lara, and the Battle of Medina, as well as preserving the inclusion of Cesar Chavez and Dr. King.

However, Texas HOPE will not minimize the contributions of Mexican Americans, Tejanos/as, or other Latin Americans by relegating the teaching of those contributions to an optional elective course that the state may or may not develop and/or school districts may or may not adopt. Texas HOPE and its members will continue to advocate for the comprehensive inclusion of the contributions of Mexican Americans throughout the core curriculum that all Texas public school children must take! In light of the tremendous contributions made by Mexican Americans to all facets of Texas culture, cuisine, music, vocabulary, laws, and art, and given that Hispanics today make-up 38% of the population of the state and that 52% of all students in public education are Hispanics, it is increasingly vital and necessary that the state of Texas recognize the full implementation of the Mexican American experience into the lore of the state for all Texans to learn and appreciate so that the future of Texas and her children may be rooted in the truth and the knowledge that Texas is truly exceptional.

Texas HOPE clearly understands that the task before the State, TEA, SBEC, the SBOE, the school districts, and the Mexican American community is that of developing curriculum standards that reflect the inclusion of these contributions in the TEKS (Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills) across the curriculum taught today in public schools. However, in order for that to begin to happen, all parties must agree that a changing paradigm in developing curriculum is necessary in order to have these contributions infused into the whole curriculum. It is disingenuous for any party to feign sincere progress in this regard without actively seeking the necessary inclusion of Mexican American experts in this process. It has been the habit of the State and its institutions to develop bills, standards, policies, and statutes without the input of Mexican American stake-holders.

Texas HOPE welcomes a sincere discourse that will move the contributions of Mexican Americans beyond an optional elective course to one that is inclusive of these contributions across the curriculum in consultation with Mexican American experts and stake-holders who will be decision-makers in the process rather than by-standers. The probability of Texas’ 1,028 school districts opting to provide Mexican American Studies as an elective is low; especially when one takes into account that approximately 800 of these school districts are rural school districts who neither have the funds nor the capacity to develop or implement the course; the issue is further compounded by the fact that 64% of all teachers in Texas are non-minority and not likely able to effectively teach such a course. We as stake-holders will also be taking a risk if students don’t sign-up for the course or if only Hispanics are attracted to the course. The danger is that the State will say that there was no interest or that it is the only place in which to teach Mexican American contributions. Clearly, the Latino organizations of Texas view education as the centerpiece of their agendas because the future of Texas and of our community is increasingly in the hands of those persons who have walked the halls of Texas public education classrooms.

 

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Texas Gets a Hire in DNCs Voter Expansion Project

Recently, you may have heard of a video VP Joe Biden made to bolster voting rights in America. In fact, it is part of a push by the Democratic National Committee to expand voting in America, ensuring voting rights for all Americans. DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman-Schultz announced four new hires in Ohio and Texas–two states in which voter protection has become a priority.

“With our state party partners, we have a national infrastructure and team of experts that no other organization can bring to bear,” she said in a statement.  “Voting laws are rapidly changing, and our Voter Expansion Project will make sure that Democrats – and all voters – across the country are able to exercise their right to vote and make their voices heard.”

In Texas, it was announced today that the project’s state director will be Sondra Haltom whose work protecting the rights of voters during a stint at the Texas Democratic Party is widely known.

A native Houstonian, Haltom has 15 years of experience working on election issues like ballot access, voter suppression prevention, redistricting and more. In December 2012, she founded Empower The Vote Texas (ETVT), a non-profit organization dedicated to voting rights and election reform issues. ETVT tracked election legislation proposed in both the Texas Legislature and U.S. Congress, monitored litigation on voting rights, served as a resource on Texas election law, and educated Texans about the voting process.

“Protecting and expanding the right to vote has long been a struggle in Texas but the challenges have been magnified in recent years,” said Haltom. “In order to fight back against the barriers being erected to voter participation, it is vital that this work happen year-round. That’s why I am so excited to be a part of the DNC’s effort to ensure that all eligible Texans are able to fully participate in their democracy.”

Prior to starting ETVT, Haltom served for seven years as the Political Director for the Texas Democratic Party where she built and lead the TDP’s Voter Protection Program and their efforts to fight illegal redistricting maps, voter suppression efforts and voter ID legislation. She is a graduate of Texas Christian University.

Here’s more from President Bill Clinton on the project.

Hi- and Low-Lites from the SBOE Hearing

No doubt, there was some great testimony by supporters of Mexican American Studies, including DC-friend, Tony “Librotraficante” Diaz and Recognized author Dagoberto Gilb. Of course, Mexican American Studies was promoted and defended effectively, and it was made known that this would basically be a state-sanctioned elective whose curriculum would be developed and approved by the State and offered to the entire state. It’s a pretty simple proposal.

According to Juan Tejeda, faculty advisor at the Center for Mexican American Studies at Palo Alto College, stated that 40 individuals testified in favor of the proposal, and only one testified against it.

The AP released this report.

The discussions also likely will preview some of the coming clashes over the content of new social studies textbooks the board is set to approve for use in classrooms across Texas this fall. In 2010, then Democratic board member Mary Helen Berlanga even stormed out of a meeting on social studies curriculum after failing in her efforts to include more lessons on Hispanic leaders, declaring: “We can just pretend this is a white America and Hispanics don’t exist.”

The best question asked of the SBOE:

Still, that did beg for some questions that didn’t make much sense, but do speak to any future clashes over what is taught in the course.

As Diaz noted, the course would have to be approved first before any discussion of what is included could be had.

Obviously, Mercer was attempting to make things political in nature, rather than educational. But I agree with Diaz that if he wants to be a part of the discussion, what better way to get involved than by voting yes.

As far as Cruz’s inclusion, it could be said that maybe 65% of Mexican American voters chose the Anglo Democrat over Cruz and that Cruz constantly votes against Mexican American interests (health care, jobs, education/college aid). At least that’s what I’d contribute. That’s if Mercer really wants to get political. Otherwise, let’s make it about educating kids and move forward.

There was another question about whether indigenous Guatemalans were similar to indigenous Mexicans from SBOE member Hardy, whom I called out yesterday for basically saying Mexican American Studies came from Mexico. At least that’s what I think I heard. But that one would just be too easy to ridicule, considering she’s been a social studies teacher.

One thing is for sure. The naysayers effectively prove through their ignorance that Mexican American Studies is needed.

 

Tuesday Night Read: TPA Round-Up

The Texas Progressive Alliance always comes in ahead of projections as it brings you this week’s roundup.

Off the Kuff analyzes precinct data in Harris County from the Democratic and Republican primary elections.

Libby Shaw at Texas Kaos learns Greg Abbott has not only invited creeps to advise his campaign but he has also brought a Tom DeLay minted crook on board. Abbott campaign pervaded by creeps and crooks.

Too many who need health insurance in Texas are intentionally being kept from getting it. WCNews at Eye on Williamson makes sure everyone know that If You Don’t Have Health Care In Texas Blame Rick Perry & The Texas GOP.

The social policies of Charles Murray, whom the Southern Poverty Law Center has identified as a white nationalist, serve as inspiration for Greg Abbott’s education reform proposal. PDiddie at Brains and Eggs is shocked and awed that Abbott is making so many critical mistakes in his gubernatorial campaign.

Texas Democrats haven’t claimed a statewide elected office in 20 yrs, but after a rousing bus tour, Texas Leftist is convinced now more than ever that pharmacist, State Senator extraordinaire and Lt. Governor candidate Leticia Van de Putte has the prescription to change that.

Neil at All People Have Value offered the view that courtesy & a sense of self-worth without a feeling of superiority is a form of resistance in our society. All People Have Value is part of NeilAquino.com.

Kingwood Area Democrat Karen Menke wrote a timely op-ed in the Kingwood Observer about women’s rights. – EgbertoWillies.com.

Texpatriate releases an April Fool’s day issue of The Houston New Post.

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And here are some posts of interest from other Texas blogs.

Texas Redistricting charts the components of population change in 12 Texas counties.

Scott Braddock reports that some legislators are concerned that schools will not have the funds to implement some mandated reforms.

Jason Stanford explains how Texas women can win on equal pay.

Juanita can’t help but see the face of Tom DeLay in today’s Congress.

Dutch Small celebrated at the wedding reception of Houston Mayor Annise Parker and her wife Kathy Hubbard.

Christopher Hooks tries to pierce the conservative persecution complex that surrounds Republican SD02 candidate Bob Hall.

M1EK has a simple suggestion for where to locate a rail line.

And I totally missed last week, so read last week’s line-up here:

Continue reading

Note to SBOE Member: You Sound Ignorant

So, there is an article in the Chron (behind paywall) about the upcoming vote on Mexican American Studies at the Texas State Board of Education. It’s no secret that, although there is one Republican who supports the measure, the entire opposition is made up of Republicans. I’m hoping a few more can be convinced to support the measure, but these folks seem to be against it.

Some, like the head of the board, attempt to explain it away.

“I think it is up to the local school districts whether or not to offer a Mexican-American studies course,” board chairman Barbara Cargill, R-The Woodlands

Some attempt to play “divide and conquer”:

“I’m Irish,” says board member David Bradley, R-Beaumont. “So I’d like to propose an amendment to create an Irish-American Studies class.”

Then, others are downright ignorant and just plain racist, if that was her intent. I hope it wasn’t.

“We’re citizens of the United States, not citizens of Mexico.” Patricia Hardy R-Weatherford.

Let me explain to Ms. Hardy:  Mexican Americans ARE Americans!!! The social, political, and cultural history of Mexican Americans and their impact on Texas is often left out of textbooks and the classrooms for various reason. What kind of an ignorant comment is that?

And to David Bradley:  Really? Well, If there is a group of activists knocking on your door with a viable and sincere request for Irish American Studies, let them in. Otherwise, your little game is a tad immature.

And Ms. Cargill and the rest:  What are you afraid of?

I’ll let my friend, HISD Board President Juliet Stipeche explain it:

“We want to have a culturally and historically relevant high school course that aligns to the TEKS,” she says, referring to the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills, curriculum standards that the state creates for various classes. “We want the course to be well developed and well defined. If we don’t develop the TEKS, it can get lost in the shuffle.”

Some say we are wasting our breath because the Republicans are hell-bent on being anti-Latino, no matter what the issue may be. That may be so. But if they think that voting down the measure will end the conversation, they are wrong.

It is much simpler to vote to support Mexican American Studies and move forward. Moving backwards certainly shouldn’t be an option. It wasn’t an option for Texas’ heroes that are in our textbooks, and moving backwards was not an option for Mexican Americans who fought to move forward despite the opposition and the odds.

 

Van de Putte Takes Houston

State Senator Leticia Van de Putte, candidate for Texas Lt. Governor, spent the entire day in Houston on Saturday, moving from one end of town to another. And this blogger turned into a groupie who went to at least a few of her Houston stops–and let me tell you, it’s pretty easy to support such a magnetic and real candidate.

My day started at the Universal Shopping Center in the far western reaches of Bellaire Blvd. A diverse and energetic crowd welcomed Senator Van de Putte to Houston as her tour bus rolled in. No sooner was she off the bus, she was shaking hands and giving out heartfelt abrazos to supporters.

The Vietnam Veterans memorial provided a powerful backdrop for the Senator’s speech which covered everything from Veteran’s affairs to public education to infrastructure development (roads). Van de Putte also gave a defense of the Rio Grande Valley, which some Republicans have called the “third world,” citing over $700 million in trade per day and the vibrancy of the area. The responsive crowd stuck around after the speech to meet-greet and take selfies with the Senator.

While the Senator went to a couple more events, including the Texas Democratic Women’s “Women Making History” Luncheon, I headed out to Fiesta Loma Linda for some menudo and to await a sit-down between the Senator and the local progressive blogosphere.  What could have been a Q&A was more like a family around the table, joking a little, discussing policy and politics, and mostly, getting to know the Senator. Let me tell you, watching her on TV or on the web, one gets the feeling that she’s as real as they come. In-person, though, she is amazing, and as one blogger friend of mine states, “formidable.” She doesn’t mince words and she tells one how she feels. As I like to say, and actually told her, my favorite thing about her is that she is a Latina candidate who wasn’t created in laboratory and doesn’t run away from her upbringing or feels the need to revamp her story for political purposes. She’s a proud mom and abuela who is basically fighting for what’s right. Plus, she’s a state university-educated woman and I really like that about her.

The fact that she was the real-deal became quite obvious when she spoke to a group of college student leaders, most from collegiate Dem clubs. The most powerful part of her speech was her breakdown of tuition deregulation and how it has affected tuition rates to the tune of a 58% increase since it was first made policy. The compare/contrast in which she admits that during her days in college, one could work a part-time job and still afford tuition and living expenses, but that today’s college students are racking up loan debt even while working, showed me a candidate who understands the current situation. I had never seen a Texas Dem candidate who could connect so well with college students about the issues that affect them, and the future that awaits them if given the right opportunities with leaders that care at the helm of the Texas government.

For me, the day was over, but for Van de Putte, the bus was on its way to Fort Bend County and then on to Corpus Christi for another leg of her 2500 mile Texas tour–the first of several around the state. I highly recommend Texans give their attention to the Senator–attend her events, seek her out on social media and spread word about her campaign. Either of her prospective opponents will continue Texas’ race to the bottom, and Senator Van de Putte is all about the future of Texas.

Website:  www.LeticiaVandePutte.com

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/LeticiaVandePutte

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/leticiavdp

 

UPDATE:  I also captured some video of her speech to the college students. I had to reduce it to 11 minutes, but, here you go:

 

Houston ISD Backs Mexican American Studies

Kudos to HISD Board President Juliet Stipeche for calling on the board to consider a resolution favoring Mexican American Studies be added to curriculum offerings–an issue to be voted on by the Texas State Board of Education on April 9. As reported by Ericka Mellon:

The 9-0 vote followed some debate over whether the district would appear to be favoring one culture over another.

HISD board president Juliet Stipeche, who brought the resolution to the board for consideration, asked her colleagues whether they could name five Mexican-American leaders in history.

“It’s not that we don’t care. It’s that we don’t know,” she said.

As I’ve mentioned previously:

The Texas State Board of Education is set to vote in early April on including Mexican American Studies in the state curriculum. Unfortunately, those who are iffy or possibly against the proposal are all Republicans and at least three more are needed to pass the proposal. Let’s give them a call and ask them to support Mexican American Studies at their next meeting on April 9.

At least one Republican on the SBOE, however, appears to support the idea. Vice chairman Thomas Ratliff told The Texas Tribune in February: “Some of [the board members] are trying to say that they don’t want to start creating a whole bunch of other studies for every other ethnic group. I don’t understand that concern because there aren’t any other ethnic groups that make up a significant portion of the state’s population like the Hispanics do.”

Houston: Call Donna Bahorich at 832.303.9091
Woodlands: Call Barbara Cargill at 512.463.9007
San Antonio: Call Ken Mercer at 512.463.9007
Ft. Worth: Call Patricia Hardy at 817.598.2968
Dallas: Call Geraldine Miller at 972.419.4000 or qtince@aol.com
Waco: Call Sue Melton-Melone at 254.749.0415 or smelton51@gmail.com
Amarillo: Call Marty Rowley at 806.373.6278 or  martyforeducation@gmail.com

General e-mails in support of the proposal may also be sent to:  sboesupport@tea.state.tx.us

DC Review: SIGGNO En Vivo

Tex-Mex showband and Latin Grammy winners Siggno just released their long-awaited live album, “En Vivo.” Recorded in multiple cities, including Houston and Laredo, Jesse Turner and his tight-knit band give us a good live recording–as good as their live shows, which are really good. Kudos to Freddie Records for some great post-production work.

siggnoFans who love them will miss the light and pyro show they sometimes bring with them, but what listeners will definitely not miss is the power-drumming of Joey Jimenez and the rock-n-bajo of Richard Rosales. And what listeners definitely get is a drive through Siggno’s 14-year career, with recent hits like Mi Mundo Se Acabo and Yo Quisiera Detenerte and earlier hits like Pero Hablama and Estupida. Other hits, like Mejor Dimelo, and Ya No Me Importa will definitely keep hard-core fans happy. The album even has a tear-jerker part in which band leader Turner dedicates Mama to his mom.

What many fans were awaiting was the release of four new tracks. Getting much airplay and YouTube hits is En La Basura. Enamorados, Tonto Corazon, and Duele definitely have the potential to be fan favorites.

All-in-all, it’s a great collector’s item and cruising partner for those sunny Sundays.

 

 

 

Republicans Block Chavez Resolution Because of Immigration

Unsurprisingly, the Republicans in the US Senate blocked a resolution honoring late labor and civil rights leader Cesar Chavez. Why? Because the Republicans wanted to honor Chavez’s anti-immigrant work.

But Republicans blocked it after Democrats refused their demand that they also include in the resolution mention of how Chavez pushed for tighter border security and saw undocumented immigrants as detrimental to U.S. workers.

I mentioned this particular fact about Chavez’s life in the review of movie last week, and it is a part of his life that Republicans have tried to exploit for their own benefit, much like they attempt to co-opt Martin Luther King’s Republican past.

Much like most labor unions, the United Farm Workers were opposed to immigrant labor because of how easy it was to exploit this source of cheap labor, thus making it easier to end the labor movement. While Chavez and the Union wanted fair labor practices and fair pay for what were mostly American citizen workers, it was people like Ronald Reagan and other Republicans who would have none of that and supported strike-breaking in the form of immigrant exploitation. Some things never change, much like the corporations that want to exploit immigrants today in order to avoid benefits like health insurance, equal pay, and simple worker protections. It really is an old Republican strategy of “divide and conquer.”

Ultimately, Cesar Chavez changed course on immigrant rights as the Chicano civil rights movement took on a more global view of labor, civil and human rights. Plus, the Union was in need of membership. Obviously, Republicans have never supported civil and human rights for anyone, much less labor rights.

Frankly, I’m not much into empty resolutions when Congress isn’t getting any real work done. I want public policy, like, I don’t know, immigration reform, equal pay, jobs creation, health care reform/single payer, education funding, stuff like that. But it’s not like the Republicans will ever support anything of value to a majority of this country.

 

DC Turns 9 in April

dc9That’s right, DosCentavos.net got its start sometime in April of 2005–nine years ago. Thanks to all of you who continue to visit–especially those who enjoyed the four-year old April Fools Joke I posted on the Facepage. Apparently, it just means I have a bunch of newer readers, which is always good.

Not much more to say, except that I need to get back on the horse and create a lot more material. This little funk of mine has definitely caused some writer’s block, although there is a lot to be said about a lot of things that many blogs out there aren’t saying–except our Texas bloggers since they’re always spot-on on the issues. Thanks to my fellow bloggers who continue to support and whom I support in any way I can. When you want real commentary on the latest issues, you need to rely on the folks of the Texas Progressive Alliance. Seriously.

Stay connected for the latest opinions and commentary on local, state, national, and even global issues, as well a cultura, musica y mas! We’ve got elections to win in November and that needs to be our focus if we are to get any positive legislation and public policy passed in the near future.

For now, here’s the very first op-ed I wrote in the Chron which really got DosCentavos started.

We’ve got a lot coming in the next few weeks!