Hispanic historical figures get short shrift, legislator and education board member say.
By Kate Alexander | AMERICAN-STATESMAN STAFF
Thursday, November 19, 2009
Frustration over the dearth of Latinos in Texas' proposed social studies curriculum standards bubbled over at the State Board of Education on Wednesday.
State Rep. Norma Chávez, D-El Paso, ticked off the number of Latino historical figures who will be required learning under the new social studies curriculum standards.
In kindergarten: none. In first grade: none. In U.S. government: none.
"You are truly not looking at the entire history of this state and accurately reflecting individuals who should be included," Chávez, who was representing the Mexican American Legislative Caucus, told the board Wednesday.
"Your government section has none, as if we don't exist."
She said that although Latinos represent more than 40 percent of the state's population, there are only 16 Latinos among the more than 160 historical figures who would have to be taught under recommendations the board is considering.
"This is no longer just about César Chávez. This is about an entire community," Norma Chávez said.
This past summer, a recommendation to remove the late labor leader from the fifth-grade standards sparked controversy even before the first draft was written. César Chávez is listed in the latest draft of U.S. history standards for his role in the civil rights movement.
The board, which held a public hearing on the standards Wednesday, is scheduled to take an initial vote on the curriculum standards in January and give its final approval in March.
Board member Pat Hardy, a former social studies teacher, said aiming for a certain number of Latinos in the standards to mirror the size of the population would not necessarily be historically accurate.
"I contend that that is revisionist," said Hardy, R-Weatherford.
Hardy added that the standards are merely a framework for school districts to design the curriculum for their classrooms and that nothing precludes local educators from adding other historical figures into their curriculum.
Norma Chávez retorted that the historical revisionism is on the other side by "neglecting the true reflection of our great state."
Missing from the standards, said board member Mary Helen Berlanga, D-Corpus Christi, are the Latinos who were essential to the founding of Texas and the United States.