For those of you keeping up with this story, Tuesday evening's consideration by the Texas State Board of Education (SBOE) of our community's long-standing demand for a Mexican American Studies (MAS) course in state curriculum got muddled in an ad hoc discussion about Latino Studies and whether the course should actually be the latter than the former.
Excuse me, this is a board that doesn't know diddly squat about the differences between MAS and "Latino Studies," nor has it ever cared. As award-winning UTRGV Professor Stephanie Alvarez brilliantly explained about these two courses that she has actually taught, namely, MAS and Latino Studies, the latter is taught east of the Mississippi River and the former, west of it. Ours is a distinct history in Texas with respect to Mexico, the border, and Mexican Americans that one has to grasp if one hopes to understand the experiences of other non-Mexican Latino groups in Texas. It's a different history for Latinos east of the Mississippi and so these courses are radically different.
Dr. Alvarez herself is a Cubana and she adheres passionately to this view in her leadership and instruction as Director of MAS at her home institution in South Texas. But not even this, her expert testimony, swayed the board discussion. It was as if she had not spoken at all. Same for the rest of us present who also testified.
Plus, our community of NACCS Tejas foco scholars—and other allies like the Texas Freedom Network and the broader REST Coalition—have been solidly advocating for MAS since 2014. While we are a large, breathing, statewide constituency, Latino Studies has no such counterpart. We should know. They would have surfaced by now.
This is not to say that there aren't some Latino Studies scholars who, by the way, haven't done this serious advocacy or in-depth K-12 curriculum development work that may seek to profit from our efforts—and God forbid—actually get a course that no one either teaches or is prepared to teach by the end of next April's SBOE meeting. While stranger things have happened, it's not over 'til it's over.
Disturbingly, while SBOE agenda item 10 made no reference at all to Latino Studies, that is what surfaced in conversation—not, of course, with our statewide constituency—but with the Anglo members of the board itself, resulting in concomitant board inaction as Dr. Trini Gonzales' piece below lays out. This unwillingness to give the community an official course in state curriculum is dismissive and insulting.