Friday, July 15, 2016

ANNOUNCEMENT: PRESS CONFERENCE — Texas Latinos Mobilize Against Controversial Mexican-American Textbook

A lot of work has gone into this in our state.  To this end, there will be a press conference at 11:00AM on Monday, July 18, 2016, in support of ethnic studies at the Texas Education Agency located at 1701 Congress Avenue in Austin, Texas.  UT History Professor Dr. Emilio Zamora—representing the ad hoc committee of the Rio Grande Valley reviewing the proposed textbook—will be among the presenters, along with Celina Moreno from MALDEF, President/Executive Director Kathy Miller of the Texas Freedom Network, and others.  Please join us on Monday with your support.

Angela Valenzuela

NBC News

Texas Latinos Mobilize Against Controversial Mexican-American Textbook

A textbook on Mexican-American history that some scholars and activists say is poorly written and contains "racist" passages is on a list of proposed books for use in Texas public schools.
The book, called "Mexican American Heritage" is on the list of proposed textbooks that the Texas State Board of Education is considering to use as part of instructional materials for the newly created Mexican-American studies class.

If approved, the book would be used in classrooms as early as next year, something critics are trying to prevent from happening.

They say the book is filled with inaccurate depictions of Mexican-American history and culture. They also point out that the book was written by two authors, Jaime Riddle and Valarie Angle, who aren't known in the field of Mexican-American studies.

"It is one of the most racist textbooks I've ever had the displeasure of reading," said Tony Díaz, a Houston-based educator, community activist and author who spearheaded the Librotraficante movement, which transported books to Arizona that had been banned by the Tucson school district.
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Díaz was one of the educators who pressed the state board to create a Mexican-American studies class last year.

"The people who wrote it obviously have no understanding of the difference between the term Chicano, Latino, Hispanic so that any time the word is uttered in the book, it's used incorrectly," Diaz said of the proposed textbook. "There's no way to edit it to fix it. The book needs to go."
Díaz is one of the organizers of a community meeting on Tuesday night to step up the opposition to using the book.

One passage of the book links Mexican Americans to undocumented immigrants and claims that illegal immigration has "caused a number of economic and security problems in the United States," including "poverty, non-assimilation, drugs, crime, and exploitation."

In another passage, Chicanos in the 1960's civil rights era are described as people who "adopted a revolutionary narrative that opposed Western civilization and wanted to destroy this society."

The "Mexican American Heritage" textbook was published by Momentum Instruction, a company that according to Houston Chronicle appears to be owned and operated by Cynthia Dunbar, former member of the Texas State Board of Education who critics call right-wing.

Momentum Instruction did not immediately return a call or respond to an email from NBC News Latino.

Lauren Callahan, spokesperson for the Texas State Board of Education, said the book will be reviewed by a panel of educators over the summer. The panel will determine the extent to which the book meets state standards and will look for factual errors.

In September, the state board will hold a public hearing to go over the panel's findings and to hear comments from the public. The public also has until September to visit the state board's website and submit factual errors or comments regarding the book.

A final vote by the state board on whether to approve or reject the book will come in November.
"It is a long process, and it's a long process for that reason - so that people have ample time to go through and review the materials," Callahan said.

She added that even if the book is approved, school districts are not required to use it and may purchase other instructional materials for use in the Mexican American Studies class.

Diaz said he and other scholars and activists are teaming up to hold community meetings across the state to educate people about what's in the book and what they can do to prevent it from going into Texas classrooms. The first in the series of community meetings was scheduled for Tuesday night.

There's also an online petition calling on the state board to remove the "Mexican American Heritage" from the list of proposed textbooks and to reopen the call for textbooks used for Mexican American studies.

Diaz said Tuesday night's community meeting is one of the first steps to getting the public "deeply involved" before the state board votes on whether or not to approve the textbook.

"We have about 20 weeks before the vote, so we're going to start now and keep constant pressure," he said.

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