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.
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.”
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.
dangerous, hundreds of people braved the Texas heat to speak out against
its adoption at a Texas Board of Education hearing.
who say the book is so riddled with factual errors, key omissions, and
blatantly racist statements it has no place in any classroom.
“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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.”
Martha P. Cotera, Angela Valenzuela, Alonzo Mendoza, Montserrat Garibay,
Ken Zarifis, and Celina Moreno
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.
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
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.”
“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.”