Tuesday, February 07, 2017

Texas Now Has its First Ethnic Studies Bill—SB695 !!!

I am very pleased to say that Texas now has its first Ethnic Studies Bill—Senate Bill 695!  Now it needs to get a hearing.

Specifically, it requires the Texas State Board of Education to offer as electives middle- and high school-level Mexican American studies, African American Studies, Asian American Studies, and Native American Studies—separately for social studies and language arts—while leaving open the possibility of other groups for inclusion under the ethnic studies umbrella (see text below). 

Kudos to all of the great work that has gone into this, particularly by the K-12 Committee of the NACCS Tejas Foco organization. 

Thanks, as well, to Senators Garcia, Hinojosa, Lucio, Menéndez, Miles, Rodriguez, Uresti, Watson, West, Whitmire, ad Zaffirini for co-authoring this historic legislation.

We now need to begin calling and sending emails Senate Education Committee Chair Larry Taylor and Vice-Chair Eddie Lucio, Jr. and members to get a hearing for SB695 as follows:

CHAIR, Larry Taylor, VICE-CHAIR Eddie Lucio, Jr.

MEMBERS Paul Bettencourt, Donna Campbell, Bob Hall, Don Huffines, Bryan Hughes, Kel Seliger, Van Taylor, Carlos Uresti, Royce West

Also, if any of you live in the districts of any of the members listed above, that means that you are one of their constituents and calls to them from you as their constituent means something more than if they receive a call from someone that is not one. If you do not know who represents you, click here to find out.

One last, very important point.  The Texas State Board of Education may also implement this without being forced by the legislature to do so.  Yes, they are empowered to simply do the right thing.  However, they must also hear from you, too, for them to know how strongly our community feels about this.  So do reach out to them, as well.

The legislative session goes very fast so we all need to get on this right away.

Angela Valenzuela

85R7634 SRS-D

By:  Garcia, et al.                                    S.B. No. 695

relating to elective courses in ethnic studies for middle school and high school students.


SECTION 1.  Subchapter A, Chapter 28, Education Code, is amended by adding Section 28.0111 to read as follows:

Sec. 28.0111.  ELECTIVE COURSES IN ETHNIC STUDIES.  (a)  A school district may offer to middle and high school students one or more English language arts or social studies elective courses in ethnic studies that comply with curriculum standards adopted under Subsection (b) or (c).

(b)  The State Board of Education shall adopt separate content-based curriculum standards for each of the following ethnic studies courses:

(1)  Mexican American studies;

(2)  African American studies;

(3)  Native American studies; and

(4)  Asian American studies.

(c)  The State Board of Education may adopt separate content-based curriculum standards for additional ethnic studies courses not specified in Subsection (b).

(d)  The curriculum standards must:

(1)  include:

(A)  key historical figures, events, and dates; and

(B)  information regarding the ethnic group's contributions to society; and

(2)  be reviewed by academic experts with knowledge in the relevant ethnic studies field before final adoption by the State Board of Education.

SECTION 2.  The State Board of Education shall adopt curriculum standards for ethnic studies courses as required by Section 28.0111, Education Code, as added by this Act, not later than the date that permits school districts to offer ethnic studies courses that comply with the curriculum standards beginning with the 2018-2019 school year.

SECTION 3.  This Act takes effect immediately if it receives a vote of two-thirds of all the members elected to each house, as provided by Section 39, Article III, Texas Constitution.  If this Act does not receive the vote necessary for immediate effect, this Act takes effect September 1, 2017.

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