HOUSTON (CBS NEWS) – A textbook proposed to help teach the cultural history of Mexican-Americans in Texas public schools is under scrutiny by scholars, some of whom decry the effort as racist and not a reflection of serious academic study.
The textbook, titled “Mexican American Heritage,” describes Mexican-Americans as people who “adopted a revolutionary narrative that opposed Western civilization and wanted to destroy this society.” It also links Mexican-Americans to undocumented immigrants, saying illegal immigration has “caused a number of economic and security problems” in the U.S. that include “poverty, drugs, crime, non-assimilation, and exploitation.”
The State Board of Education voted to include textbooks on Mexican-American studies after activists last year demanded the subject be formally included in state curriculum. “Mexican American Heritage” is the first textbook on the subject included in a list of proposed instructional materials.
“Paradoxically, we pressed for the board to include texts on Mexican-American studies, and we achieved it, but not in the way we were expecting,” said Tony Diaz, host of Nuestra Palabra (Our Word) radio program in Houston and director of Intercultural Initiatives at Lone Star College-North Harris. “Instead of a text that is respectful of the Mexican-American history, we have a book poorly written, racist, and prepared by non-experts.”
The Texas Education Agency says it followed standard procedure for the call to submit instructional materials for Mexican-American curriculums for the 2017-2018 school year.
Texans have until September to submit comments on the proposed instructional materials, said TEA spokeswoman DeEtta Culbertson. She also said the proposed textbooks will undergo review by a committee that includes teachers and administrators and that committee will make recommendations to the board.
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