Tag Archives: SBOE

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.

 

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.

 

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.