AUSTIN (CBSDFW.COM) – Historians say the latest Mexican American history textbook being considered by the Texas Board of Education is riddled with errors. The chorus of educators united Monday to demand that the book for Texas high school students be rejected.
Lilliana Saldaña, an associate professor of Mexican American Studies at the University of Texas at San Antonio, said the errors begin as soon as you open the book. “In the first chapter we found at least three to four severe errors — on each page.”
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.”
After demands that Mexican-American studies be included in the state curriculum, the Board of Education voted to include textbooks on the subject last year. “Mexican American Heritage” is the only Mexican-American history text being considered by the Texas Education Agency (TEA).
Dr. Jose Herrera, a historian at the University of Texas at El Paso, calls the text “criminally shallow” and in some cases factually ignorant.“And they say, ‘oh yeah, (Mexican General Antonio Lopez de) Santa Anna lead his troops at Goliad.’ Well, he was nowhere near Goliad that was Jose de Urrea, you gotta give him credit for what he did. These are mistakes that on a 4th grade textbook I would fail a kid.”
The proposed textbook is published by Momentum Instruction, a company headed by Cynthia Dunbar, a right-wing Christian activist and former Texas State Board of Education member who labeled the education system “tyrannical” when she published her book, “One Nation Under God”.
Both Dunbar and Momentum Instruction were contacted for comment but have not responded.
Kathy Miller, president of the Texas Freedom Network, said the publisher appeared to be more interested in politics than facts. She explained on example where, “The textbook perversely blames the widespread and violent repression of freed slaves after the Civil War on the supposed persecution of white southerners.”
University of Texas History professor Dr. Emilio Zamora is among the coalition of educators who say the text is poorly researched, biased, offensive and has little or no educational value. “The excessive factual interpretation and omission errors render the proposed textbook useless and even counterproductive as a textbook for Mexican-American history.”
Textbooks adopted by the TEA become part of statewide recommended instructional materials, but independent school districts aren’t required to include the books in their curriculum.
Dr. Saldaña said the “Mexican American Heritage” text does not belong in Texas classrooms. “A textbook like his would be a great disservice, not only to Mexican-American students but all students.”
Texans have until September to submit comments on all proposed instructional materials. The TEA will vote in November on whether to approve “Mexican American Heritage” and all other proposed textbooks.
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