Sunday, October 02, 2016

Educators fight textbook that vilifies Mexican Americans - Education Votes




Couldn't let the weekend go by without mentioning this on my blog.    

First, the National Education Association (or NEA), which is one of the two biggest national educators' unions in the country, has joined the #RejectTheText movement in Texas against the Riddle and Angle Mexican American Heritage racist, nativist textbook that is currently under consideration by the Texas State Board of Education.  
Second, this piece by Sabrina Holcomb has great quotes from NEA/local leadership (see below), as well as by #MASforTexas leader Juan Tejeda, who in his quote conveys the sentiment of our movement here in Texas: "I can’t think of any time since the late 60s and early 70s the activism surrounding this issue has been so prominent.”

The piece closes with this quote by Education Austin President Ken Zarifis—who nails it: 
This issue goes beyond November and this textbook, says Ken Zarifis. “The salient question is how do you tell the history of all the people who make up this nation? Why are we scared to acknowledge the contributions others have made,” asks Zarifis. “When I taught 8th grade language arts, my kids were thirsty to hear their stories in the classroom. Why would we deny them that?” The only reason I can think of is we don’t want them to feel empowered by their heritage and the real story of those who came before them.”
I like how he eloquently and succinctly expresses this view in the powerful voice of a caring teacher. 


This is a struggle that has to get named along the lines of majority-minority relations for us to begin to un-do the damage that comes from the SBOE, and by extension, the curriculum and instruction that similarly inflict harm to the degree that they are either ignorant about, if not altogether indifferent to, the empowering, precious knowledge to which our children and communities have been systematically deprived for well over a century. 

Many thanks to NEA staff extraordinaire, Bill Moreno, for facilitating this news story and helping us to get the word out.  And, of course, special thanks to Sabrina Holcomb, who wrote it.  

Thanks, as well, to NEA President Lily Eskelsen for her outstanding leadership in addressing systemic and institutionalized forms of racial oppression that you can read more about here.
Please sign/consider signing the petition if you've not done so.

Angela Valenzuela
c/s
Educators fight textbook that vilifies Mexican Americans - Education Votes: Mexican American Heritage textbook is so riddled with factual errors, key omissions, and blatantly racist statements it has no place in any classroom.
Educators fight textbook that vilifies Mexican Americans
Posted September 30, 2016


1 comment
texas-freedom-network
Posted in: Education News, NEA EdJustice Features, Texas
Demonstrators at Texas Board of Education hearing. Credit: Texas Freedom Network
By Sabrina Holcomb
Critics consider a new Mexican American Heritage textbook so
dangerous, hundreds of people braved the Texas heat to speak out against
its adoption at a Texas Board of Education hearing.
The proposed textbook has offended and outraged activists
who say the book is so riddled with factual errors, key omissions, and
blatantly racist statements it has no place in any classroom.


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Stand with educators supporting diverse books in schools. Click here ›
If this textbook is adopted, say concerned educators, students will
“learn” that Mexican American workers are lazy, Mexican-American labor
leaders wanted to destroy American society, and Mexican American people
are cultural separatists—and that’s just a start.
 “When you are a young person and you read a book that says people
like you are lazy and uneducated and bad for society, you internalize
that,” says Montserrat Garibay, Vice President of Education Austin and an early childhood teacher. “That’s what your friends are reading about you. It denigrates you as a person, and perpetuates institutional racism.”
Over half of Texas’ five million students are Latino, and the
majority of them are Mexican American, leading some educators to
advocate for a more inclusive curriculum that incorporates Mexican
American history—a commonsense approach they say, given research that shows students who take ethnic studies courses perform better on state tests and are more likely to graduate from high school.
Instead of implementing an inclusive curriculum or full ethnic  studies program, however, the Texas Board of Education called for
publishers to submit textbooks for an optional social studies course.
The sole submission, Mexican American Heritage—written by a publisher
who had no subject matter expertise—provoked an incredulous backlash
when the board released a sample.
 “Over 140 errors have been identified in this book already,” says
Education Austin President Ken Zarifis, “yet a spokesperson for the
publishing company questioned having scholars review it. That statement
stunned me. People who deny healthy scholarship shouldn’t be making
decisions about our kids.”
A broad coalition of scholar-activists and organizations, including Education Austin and the Texas State Teachers Association, have organized against the adoption—coordinating scholarly reviews, holding meetings and press conferences, and circulating an electronic petition that has secured over 10,000 signatures.

Martha P. Cotera, Angela Valenzuela, Alonzo Mendoza, Montserrat Garibay,
Ken Zarifis, and Celina Moreno
Coalition members and students, concerned about the negative impact
of a book that “distorts history,” showed up in force at the Board of
Education hearing last week, where over 100 people signed up to speak.
They and other stakeholders must wait until November to hear the school
board’s decision—a choice that could reverberate beyond Texas.
In the world of school textbooks, Texas is the giant in the room—a
large and profitable market that exerts a powerful influence on the
content of textbooks throughout the country. It’s not the first time the
Texas Board of Education has been in the news. In fact, the publisher
of Mexican American Heritage is a former member of the Board who once
said that sending kids to public school is like “throwing them into the
enemy’s flames.”
Despite an uphill climb, some educators have persevered, heartened by the “movement atmosphere” they say has taken hold in Texas and other areas of the country—such as California, which just passed a landmark bill ordering a model ethnic studies course for all state high schools.
“I can’t think of any time since the late 60s and early 70s the
activism surrounding this issue has been so prominent,” affirms art
professor and movement leader Juan Tejeda, who spoke at the schoolboard
hearing along with other stakeholders. “We’re asking the Board to make
the right decision in November.”
This issue goes beyond November and this textbook, says Ken Zarifis.
“The salient question is how do you tell the history of all the people
who make up this nation? Why are we scared to acknowledge the
contributions others have made,” asks Zarifis. “When I taught 8th grade
language arts, my kids were thirsty to hear their stories in the
classroom. Why would we deny them that?” The only reason I can think of
is we don’t want them to feel empowered by their heritage and the real
story of those who came before them.”

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