Texas Groups Oppose Mexican-American Studies Textbook

AUSTIN, Texas — Advocates and educators plan to go before the Texas State Board of Education this week to demand the board reject a controversial Mexican-American studies textbook.

The group, the Responsible Ethnic Studies Textbook Coalition, is trying to prevent the book from ever making it into a Texas classroom, saying it is riddled with errors, deeply offensive, and presents a distorted picture of Mexican-Americans.

Board of Education member Ruben Cortez Jr. of Brownsville, who led a panel of scholars analyzing the text, said he’s in favor of teaching Mexican-American studies in Texas schools, but not with this book.

“As a board, we cannot allow any textbook that simply lies to our students and, in this particular case, disparages their race,” Cortez said. “We can’t allow any book that has any racist remarks to enter into our public schools.”

According to Cortez, panel members not only found more than 140 factual errors in the text of “Mexican-American Heritage” but also discovered several references they considered racist.

The book was proposed by publisher Virginia Dunbar, a former board member, who defended the text, saying her company did not consult Mexican-American scholars in order to avoid bias.

Cortez said one passage in the book, among several he found offensive, portrayed Mexican-Americans as generally lazy, often skipping work and habitually drinking on the job. Celina Moreno with coalition member MALDEF said the board should scrap the proposed text and start over.

“There are so many errors, this book is simply not salvageable,” Moreno said. “One would have to go and rewrite almost the entire textbook to correct all of the problems. And if the state board did approve it, it would be a major embarrassment for Texas.”

Other groups among the more than two dozen coalition members include Texas LULAC, the Texas Latino Education Coalition and ACLU of Texas.

The board will hear public comments Tuesday in Austin, and will vote in November to adopt or reject the book.

Author: Mark Richardson, Public News Service