Monday, August 29, 2016

SEP13, 2016 Reject Offensive Mexican-American Studies Textbook #RejectTheText

This rally invitation regards the controversial textbook authored by Jaime Riddle and Valarie Angle titled, "Mexican American Heritage," that will get considered for adoption by Texas' State Board of Education (SBOE) in their September meeting, with a vote taking place at their November meeting.   The rally takes place on Tuesday, September 13th at 9:30AM in Austin, Texas at the William B. Travis Building, 1701 North Congress.  

It comes by way of Celina Moreno from MALDEF and includes several other related  announcements as follows:

Today, the Mexican American Legislative Caucus (MALC) and the Senate Hispanic Caucus issued a joint statement urging the SBOE to reject the Mexican American Heritage textbook. Here is the joint statement:
Here is the full MALC letter:
Also, here is the link to the Facebook event which announces the Sept. 13 rally and SBOE hearing and includes details: Please share widely with your social media networks.

For ease, I've gone ahead and posted (see below) the joint statement and full MALC letter referenced in Celina's message.  It's great to have great leadership on such matters in Texas.

Here's the Twitter hashtag that all should use for this protest: #RejectTheText


Saturday, August 27, 2016

Important Message from Keeper of Sacred White Buffalo Calf Pipe

This should go viral.  I -Angela


I, Chief Arvol Looking Horse, of the Lakota, Dakota, and Nakota Nations, ask you to understand an Indigenous perspective on what has happened in America, what we call "Turtle Island." My words seek to unite the global community through a message from our sacred ceremonies to unite spiritually, each in our own ways of beliefs in the Creator.

We have been warned from ancient prophecies of these times we live in today, but have also been given a very important message about a solution to turn these terrible times.

Continue reading here.

A third of Texas teachers must work second jobs, survey says

Not good. -Angela

A third of Texas teachers must work second jobs, survey says

Nearly a third of Texas teachers work a second job during the school year “to support themselves and their families,” according to a survey by the Texas State Teachers Association.
The teachers group, an affiliate of the National Education Association, had commissioned a survey of 837 of about 60,000 of its total teacher membership over the summer and released the results Thursday.
The survey found that in addition to moonlighting, teachers spend an average of 17 hours per week outside of the classtime grading papers, preparing lessons and performing other teacher-related duties.
“Although the weekend gives students a break from their classes and time to relax with their families, for many teachers Saturdays and Sundays are spent working at extra jobs and preparing for next week’s teaching duties,” said the group’s president Noel Candelaria.
Texas ranks 26th in teacher pay, according to 2015-2016 data from the National Education Association. Texas teachers receive an average salary of $51,758, $6,306 below the national average. State education funding is $2,700 per student below the national average.
Teachers who responded to the survey added that they spent an average $656 per year of their own money for classroom supplies and an average $326 per month on health insurance premiums.
The state teacher’s group noted that lawmakers haven’t increased the $75 monthly contribution the state makes to teacher insurance premiums in almost 15 years.
The survey also found that:
  • 86 percent of moonlighting teachers said they wanted to quit their extra jobs but would need a pay raise of about $9,000 to do so.
  • 49 percent of teachers work jobs over the summer
  • 53 percent were seriously considering leaving the teaching profession
  • 95 percent opposed using a single test to determine whether students should move on to the next grade. Fifth and eighth graders in Texas must pass state standardized tests for grade promotion

How the Most Hated Animal in America Outwitted Us All

I just read this fascinating piece on the legendary coyote.  Thanks to Dr. Bernardo Gallegos for sharing.

I hear the coyotes' howl sometimes near my home, especially late in the evening. They of course are fabled and storied creatures that are native to North America that Native Americans have always respectfully characterized and mythologized"as the trickster" because of its unrivaled wit and cunning in its quest to survive.  

In a recent book, Coyote America, Dan Flores, he examines coyotes' extraordinary evolutionary adaptability not only to changing environmental contexts, but literally to campaigns that have sought to exterminate them.  

I just looked up Coyotes in Central Texas from the Austin Animal Center.
Among other things, they provide advice on how to get rid of them without hurting them.  We have much to learn about our ancient friends whose howl, according to Dan Flores, is indeed "our original national anthem."

Angela Valenzuela

How the Most Hated Animal in America Outwitted Us All

Coyotes, the victims of attempted extermination, have found a way to thrive.

The howl of the coyote is America’s “original national anthem,” says Dan Flores, author of Coyote America: A Natural and Supernatural History. A totemic animal in Native American mythology, the coyote has lived in North America for more than a million years. But since the early 19th-century, when Lewis and Clark first encountered them, coyotes have been subject to a pitiless war of extermination by ranchers and government agencies alike.
Even today, some 500,000 coyotes are killed each year, many shot to death from small planes and helicopters. Yet the coyote has survived all attempts to eradicate it, spreading from its original territory west of the Rockies to the East Coast, where it has now found a safe, new refuge in cities like Chicago and New York. (Why coyotes thrive in cities.)

When National Geographic caught up with Flores by phone from his home in New Mexico, he explained how misunderstanding and prejudice have dogged the coyote’s history; how the cartoon character Wile E. Coyote helped change public attitudes; and why the coyote’s howl plays a unique role in maintaining populations.
Tell us a bit about the history of the coyote. Is it a distinctively American species?
It is. It comes out of the canid family, which evolved in North America 5.3 million years ago. Many of the other species of canids, like jackals, wolves, and wild dogs, spread around the globe via the land bridges connecting America to Europe and Asia. But coyotes never left and evolved as a distinctive species about a million years ago. Physically, they resemble jackals, especially the golden jackal. They’re about the same size as golden jackals, from which coyotes only separated about 800,000 years ago, so they’re fairly close relatives. There’s only about a 4 percent genetic difference.
The coyote featured prominently in Native American mythology. How was it represented?

We’ve traditionally thought of the coyote as a classic trickster figure, which is found among Paleolithic peoples around the world. I argue that the coyote serves in Native American folk tales more as a deity, who instructs humans about human nature. He certainly can sometimes play tricks, but what the bulk of the stories are about is exposing various elements of human nature and instructing people in the proper way to behave toward one another in a social setting.

In the early 19th century, the coyote was not found east of the Great Plains. It was a western animal exclusively. As a result, Lewis and Clark had never seen one until they got to the middle Missouri River in present-day South Dakota in the fall of 1804. They wrote in their journals that they were seeing some new kind of fox. But once they shot one and looked at it up close, they realized this was no fox but some kind of wolf. They named it a prairie wolf and for a lot of the 19th century that’s what the animal was known as in American natural history.

Coyote is an old Aztec name that goes back at least a thousand years. It had been taken into the American Southwest with Spanish settlers, who brought Native Americans with them. When Anglo Americans began arriving in the Southwest in the 1820s-1840s, they began encountering people who called the animal coyote. Over time, most people began to replace the name prairie wolf with coyote or as some people pronounced it, in vernacular speech, kie-ote. That’s how we ended up with two different pronunciations.
One of the chief culprits for the coyote’s negative image was Mark Twain. What was his beef?

Twain’s classic 1870s book, Roughing It, gave Americans a way to think about the coyote. Up until that time, Americans arriving from Europe did not know what to think of it. Mark Twain comes along and, in a three-to-four-page comic rant about the animal, gives us a way to think of it as a cowardly, despicable little wretch that lives off carrion. He writes, “The meanest creatures despise him, and even the fleas would desert him for a velocipede.” By the 1920s, even Scientific American calls the coyote “the original Bolshevik.” [Laughs.]

You write that coyotes were “the victims of a crusade … that surpassed any other in terms of the range of killing techniques and cruelty.” Give us some of the gruesome details.

A government agency called the Bureau of Biological Survey, which became the federal solution to the so-called predator question, began by focusing mostly on wolves, because that was the animal that the livestock industry wanted to eliminate. By the 1920s, they had managed pretty much to extirpate wolves in North America, so they turned to the coyote as “the archpredator of our time.”
A lab was created called the Eradication Methods Laboratory. It began working on various kinds of poisons, like strychnine, to wipe coyotes off the face of the continent. And, in 1931, they got Congress to pass a bill that gave them $10 million to do exactly that. What ensued was the most epic campaign of persecution against any animal in North American history. In a nine-year period between 1947 and 1956, this agency killed approximately 6.5 million coyotes in the American West, using blanket poisoning, sometimes with as many as three to four million poison baits at one time.
There was actually no scientific basis for calling the coyote the “archpredator.”
One of the remarkable things about this campaign is that, at the time it was launched in 1931, there had been no scientific studies of coyotes. No one had any idea what they ate. The hate campaign directed at the animal just assumed it fed on all the classic game species: mule deer, pronghorns, bighorn sheep, and livestock sheep and calves.
Finally, the agency began to fund scientific studies of coyotes. What they discovered is that coyotes actually ate rodents, rabbits, fruit, all sorts of vegetables, some carrion, and mice, but had almost no impact whatsoever on the large game animals the Bureau had been arguing was their chief prey. By the late 1920s, the American Society of Mammologists was coming out in position papers against the campaign. But they weren’t able to make much of a dent. The agency just kept at it.

One of the most fascinating mechanisms for the coyote’s survival is that it can quickly change its breeding habits according to realities on the ground. Explain how that works.
The coyote evolved with an adaptive, evolutionarily derived strategy for surviving under persecution. Coyotes evolved alongside larger canids, like wolves, which often persecuted and harassed them and killed their pups. As a result, both jackals and coyotes developed this fission-fusion adaptation, which human beings also have. This enables them to either function as pack predators or as singles and pairs. When they’re persecuted, they tend to abandon the pack strategy and scatter across the landscape in singles and pairs. And the poison campaign was one of the things that kept scattering them across North America.
One of the other adaptations they have is that, whenever their populations are pressured, their litter sizes go up. The normal size is five to six pups. When their populations are suppressed, their litters get up as high as 12 to 16 pups. You can reduce the numbers of coyotes in a given area by 70 percent but the next summer their population will be back to the original number. They use their howls and yipping to create a kind of census of coyote populations. If their howls are not answered by other packs, it triggers an autogenic response that produces large litters.
Television became a surprising champion for the coyote—tell us about Wile E. Coyote and what you call “coyote consciousness.”
I was trying to figure out how American attitudes changed enough toward these animals in the 1960s and early 1970s to persuade Richard Nixon to issue a presidential proclamation that banned the further use of poisons on the public lands of the West. And I realized that pop culture had done a lot toward swaying the way Americans thought about coyotes.
Starting in the 1960s, Walt Disney produced six pro-coyote films. For a lot of us, the most famous coyote in the world from the 1960s through the 1990s was Wile E. Coyote, the cartoon coyote produced by Warner Brothers Studios. He not only serves as this coyote avatar. He finally gives us a sympathetic coyote character to have in our lives. [Laughs.] That’s why I call it coyote consciousness.

Are coyotes still being killed? And what sort of numbers are we talking about?
After poisoning was largely brought to an end in the early 1970s, the Wildlife Services Agency began to employ a new technology: primarily aerial gunning. The sheep industry in America used to have 55 to 60 million sheep in the World War II period. Today, they only have about five to six million sheep. But biologists who study this estimate say that, at taxpayer expense, Wildlife Services aerial guns about 80,000 coyotes per year on behalf of the livestock industry.
In recent years coyotes have discovered what you call “a new refuge … chock full of food and cover where no one ever shot at you.” Tell us about the rise of "urban coyotes" and what you call “coywolves.”
Coyotes have been living in cities in America for at least a thousand years. But in the early 20th century, as they spread across the Mississippi River into the Midwest, East, and South, they’ve taken up residence in the biggest cities in the U.S., like Chicago and, increasingly, their new frontier, New York City! It’s a place where people do not trap, poison, or shoot them. Coyotes in rural America usually live on average only about two and a half years. But in cities they’re living to 12 to 13 years old and raising pups so that many more survive. They’re doing very well living among us, dining on the rats and mice that our villages and houses produce in such abundance.

As they have moved east, they have also encountered two remnant species of American wolf: the red wolves of the South and the Eastern wolves of upper New England and eastern Canada. There are no behavioral barriers to them interbreeding. So, as they’ve interbred with these remnant wolf populations, they’ve created a new predator for modern America, the “coywolf,” which is about 70 percent coyote but also has wolf genes and even the genes of domestic dogs. It’s a very exciting development.
Project Coyote is one of a number of conservation organizations devoted to bringing back the coyote—tell us about these efforts and why it is important to save what you call an "American avatar."
Project Coyote, which is based in San Francisco, is trying to get us to understand how we can coexist with these animals and not react to them out of fear or stereotypes: that they have rabies or eat at the back of fast-food restaurants. Coyotes don’t carry rabies and they hardly eat any human food. They are predators of small rodents. And by learning to co-exist with them, we can tap into something that’s ancient to this continent.
The coyote is our classic totem animal in America. It’s the animal that produced the oldest body of literature in North America in the form of Indian coyote deity stories from 10,000 years ago. To me, the howl of the coyote is our original national anthem.
This interview was edited for length and clarity.
Simon Worrall curates Book Talk. Follow him on Twitter.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Open Call for Submissions: Wit, Verse and Wisdom in Mexican American Studies

This comes from the Responsible Ethnic Studies Textbook Coalition that has formed surrounding the potential adoption ofby all accounts— a thoroughly and profoundly flawed and racist text, Mexican American Heritage, which is under current consideration by the Texas State Board of Education.

What Coalition member, hubby, and UT History Professor extraordinaire,  Dr. Emilio Zamora, did in pulling this together is exquisite. 

Consider sharing in this wonderful opportunity to impart wit, verse, and wisdom in Mexican American Studies.  Instructions on the selection of excerpts or passages, as well as on criteria for consideration appear below.


  Wit, Verse and Wisdom in Mexican American Studies

The Responsible Ethnic Studies Textbook Coalition is overseeing the preparation of critiques of a textbook entitled Mexican American Heritage to dissuade the Texas State Board of Education from adopting it for use in our public schools. Aside from pointing out the numerous factual errors, polemical tone and the recurring offensive statements, we accuse the authors of an obvious lack of familiarity with the vast Mexican American Studies literature published during the last forty years. 

César E. Chavez
To address this issue, we wish to initiate an electronic counter-story to help shift the paradigm on how we are seen and described. We're shifting the paradigm on how Mexican-Americans are seen and described. We wish to show the wit, verse and wisdom in Mexican American Studies to underscore the dismissal of Mexican history and challenge the flawed and stereotypical depictions in the proposed textbook. 

Simply put, we seek to demonstrate the wealth of rich and important information a textbook on Mexican Americans should include. We also want to give other like-minded persons an opportunity to join our fight over the production and dissemination of our collective knowledge.

Do you have ideas for submissions? Please email Val Benavidez with any suggestions. Emilio Zamora, editor of the series, will fact check the entries and approve them for our series at the REST site. If you have questions, write to Emilio at

How should I select excerpts or passages?
Consult a book, article, speech or archival record and select a passage that you find interesting, instructive, insightful, beautiful and/or useful for teaching Mexican American Studies in high school, college and university classes. Also, please include a copy of an image associated with the author, book cover or event. If you are an author, we encourage you to submit parts of your publication(s) or other forms of creative work.

What criteria should I observe?
The passages should be brief—no longer than 20 lines of typescript—and should include their source. You may wish to include a very brief introductory statement—from one to three sentences—in which you explain why the passage is important for an understanding of Mexicans in the United States. We prefer quotes but will entertain other forms of submissions like recollections of historical experiences and art work. We will also accept multiple passages from the same source. For instance, someone may wish to submit another quote from the life of Cesar Chavez (see below). 

Have you signed the petition yet? Add your name at

Selected excerpts:

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) and English Language Learners (ELLs)

Excellent presentation by Dr. Wayne Wright on the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) with respect, in particular, to English language learners.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Why Do Millennials Not Understand Racism?

Interesting read.  We of course know that we can't imagine race/racism away. 
We have to work at it. Ideally, it interrogates white, middle class privilege.  And it overlaps with other forms of subordination and oppression related to gender, sexual orientation, class, documentation status, and so on.  It's institutional, individual, and historical.  It's a multi-faceted problem.  And there's ample scholarship to provide guidance in this regard—literally decades worth of research, writing, and publishing in this area of race and ethnic relations, multicultural education, and beyond. 
Millennials will benefit best and most from ethnic studies as a new default in public education—and about which I have already written, alongside vast, numerous others that similarly opine.
Angela Valenzuela

May 16 2014 5:42 PM

They think if we ignore skin color, racism will somehow disappear.

Millennials see racism as a matter of different treatment, justified by race, that you solve by removing race from the equation.
When you hear MTV, you don’t think “research.” But, for the last few years, the music television channel has been building a public affairs campaign to address bias called “Look Different.” Aimed at millennials, it seeks to help them deal with prejudice and discrimination in their lives. And as part of the project, MTV has worked with pollsters to survey a nationally representative sample of people ages 14 to 24 to measure how young people are “experiencing, affected by, and responding to issues associated with bias.”

Overall, MTV confirms the general view of millennials: Compared with previous generations, they’re more tolerant and diverse and profess a deeper commitment to equality and fairness. At the same time, however, they’re committed to an ideal of colorblindness that leaves them uncomfortable with race, opposed to measures to reduce racial inequality, and a bit confused about what racism is.
All of this is apparent in the findings. Ninety-one percent of respondents “believe in equality” and believe “everyone should be treated equally.” Likewise, 84 percent say their families taught them to treat everyone the same, no matter their race, and 89 percent believe everyone should be treated as equals. With that said, only 37 percent of respondents (30 percent of whites and 46 percent of minorities) say they were raised in families that talk about race.

For this reason, perhaps, a majority of millennials say that their generation is “post-racial.” Seventy-two percent believe their generation believes in equality more than older people, and 58 percent believe that as they get older, racism will become less of an issue. It’s almost certainly true that this view is influenced by the presence of President Obama. Sixty-two percent believe that having a black president shows that minorities have the same opportunities as whites, and 67 percent believe it proves that race is not a “barrier to accomplishments.”


It’s no surprise, then, that most millennials aspire to “colorblindness.” Sixty-eight percent say “focusing on race prevents society from becoming colorblind.” As such, millennials are hostile to race-based affirmative action: 88 percent believe racial preferences are unfair as a matter of course, and 70 percent believe they are unfair regardless of “historical inequalities.” Interestingly, the difference between whites and people of color is nonexistent on the first question and small (74 percent versus 65 percent) on the second. But this might look different if you disaggregated “people of color” by race. There’s a chance that black millennials are more friendly to affirmative action than their Latino or Asian peers.
For all of these aspirations, however, millennials have a hard time talking about race and discrimination. Although 73 percent believe that we should talk “more openly” about bias, only 20 percent say they’re comfortable doing so—despite the fact that a plurality of minorities say that their racial identities shape their views of the world.

What’s more, for all of their unity on tolerance and equality, white and minority millennials have divergent views on the status of whites and minorities in society. Forty-one percent of white millennials say that the government “pays too much attention to the problems of racial minority groups while 65 percent of minorities say that whites have more opportunities.” More jarring is the 48 percent of white millennials who say discrimination against whites is as big a problem as discrimination against racial minorities. With that in mind, it’s worth a quick look at a 2012 poll from the Public Religion Research Institute, where 58 percent of white millennials said that discrimination against whites was as big a problem as discrimination against minorities.
It’s hard to say which is the “true” number, but there’s no doubt that a substantial plurality of young white people believe their race is a disadvantage, which is ludicrous given the small number who say that they’ve felt excluded because of their race (10 percent) or say that they’ve been hurt by racial offenses (25 percent).
But while this reaction doesn’t seem to have a basis in reality, it makes perfect sense given what millennials writ large believe about racism. Let’s go back to the results on colorblindness and affirmative action. Seventy-three percent believe that “never considering race would improve society,” and 90 percent say that “everyone should be treated the same regardless of race.”
From these results, it’s clear that—like most Americans—millennials see racism as a matter of different treatment, justified by race, that you solve by removing race from the equation. If we ignore skin color in our decisions, then there can’t be racism.
The problem is that racism isn’t reducible to “different treatment.” Since if it is, measures to ameliorate racial inequality—like the Voting Rights Act—would be as “racist” as the policies that necessitated them. No, racism is better understood as white supremacy—anything that furthers a broad hierarchy of racist inequity, where whites possess the greatest share of power, respect, and resources, and blacks the least.
And the magic of white supremacy is that its presence is obscured by the focus on race. When a black teenager is unfairly profiled by police, we say it’s “because of the color of his skin,” which—as a construction—avoids the racism at play, from the segregated neighborhood the officer patrols to the pervasive belief in black criminality that shapes our approach to crime. Likewise, it obscures the extent to which this isn’t just different treatment— it’s unequal treatment rooted in unequal conditions.
Millennials have grown up in a world where we talk about race without racism—or don’t talk about it at all—and where “skin color” is the explanation for racial inequality, as if ghettos are ghettos because they are black, and not because they were created. As such, their views on racism—where you fight bias by denying it matters to outcomes—are muddled and confused.
Which gets to the irony of this survey: A generation that hates racism but chooses colorblindness is a generation that, through its neglect, comes to perpetuate it.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Scientists unlock a secret to Latinos' longevity, with hopes of slowing aging for everyone

Very interesting research by UCLA bioinformatician Steve HorvathThanks to Dr. Rudy Acuña for sharing.

Latinos' measured longevity, he finds, is largely genetic, but also related to levels of educational attainment.  This is what surprised me in this report:
Horvath emphasized that Latinos’ slower aging rate cannot be explained by lifestyle factors such as diet, socioeconomic status, education or obesity, because researchers adjusted for the influence of such factors.
They are of course referring to findings in populations so on an individual level, variation on such things matter.  Moreover, these findings do not at all mean that we shouldn't eat nutritiously, but rather to shed light on what has been termed, the Hispanic paradox,” which according Horvath,

“It suggests that what gives Hispanics their advantage is really their Native American ancestry, because they share ancestry with these indigenous Americans.”
Further worthy of note is the finding of beyond the age of 85 for African Americans, their lifespans tend to be longer than comparable whites.  

Barring the ravaging effects of colonization (for example, read this illuminating piece that advocates for food sovereignty for Native Americans in the U.S.), to this I would add that "sharing ancestry" is a living, breathing thing, too, since Mexican Americans and others that emanate from Central and South America often eat an ancestral diet.

Every time we eat a corn (not flour) taco, that's an indigenous meal.  The whole planet can thusly benefit from this diet and I encourage everyone to read this book titled, Decolonize your Diet by  Luz Calvo and Catriona Rueda Esquibel, and to also check out this website for more resources on how to do this.  

I personally try to consume nopales or nopalitos (cactus) regularly.  I use the small, tender leaves from my cactus in my garden to regularly make jugo verde (green juice) that you can read about here.  One of the ingredients, parsley, is also a natural teeth whitener.  I notice my teeth whiten with regular use.

Hope folks find this helpful.  I'm making me a jugo verde today!

Angela Valenzuela

Scientists unlock a secret to Latinos' longevity, with hopes of slowing aging for everyone

A new way to measure how humans age suggests that Latino Americans withstand life’s wear and tear better than non-Latino whites — and that they may have their Native American ancestors to thank for their longer lives.

The findings offer some insight into a long-standing demographic mystery: Despite having higher rates of inflammation and such chronic diseases as obesity and diabetes, Latinos in the United States have a longer average lifespan than do non-Latino whites.

The research also helps answer questions about why some people die young while others live to old age, and what chronic diseases have to do with aging.

To get a handle on some of these thorny issues, UCLA bioinformatician Steve Horvath and his colleagues have been trying to devise a biological clock that measures age more comprehensively than simply counting up birthdays. Their method reflects the activity level of the epigenome, the set of signals that prompt one’s genes to change their function across a lifespan in response to new demands.

This “epigenetic clock” captures a key feature of aging: that as we grow older, there are complex but predictable changes in the rate at which our genes are switched on and off.

Continue reading here.

#NativeAmericans #FoodSovereignty #LatinoParadox #HispanicParadox #LatinoHealth

Thursday, August 18, 2016

AB 2016 just cleared the California Senate floor...Consider writing a letter of support

Good News out of California! 

Yesterday, AB 2016 cleared the Senate floor with a final vote of 32-5. Soon it will make its way to the Governor's desk so please send us a signed copy of your letter of support by end of day Sunday. Please CLICK HERE for a sample letter and email the signed copy back to us ASAP to: (Many thanks to those

As we mentioned earlier this week, if passed, AB2016 will create a model A-G approved Ethnic Studies Curriculum that school districts can adopt, and would be the first of its kind in the entire country!

who have already sent a letter of support!)

Check out an earlier post on this on my blog.

Please Consider Making a Donation

If you support the work we are doing with the Ethnic Studies Now Coalition please help us fund the movement. We cannot do it without you. With your help we can expand our community organizing/advocacy campaign, provide professional development support for teachers and curriculum design for school districts. PLEASE make a donation to Ethnic Studies Now! by clicking the link below:


José Lara

Coordinating Committee Member, 
Ethnic Studies Now Coalition
Tel. (213) 267-9031
Fax. (323) 844-0110


Sunday, August 14, 2016

U.S. judge blocks Texas law on election interpreters

U.S. judge blocks Texas law on election interpreters
 12:59 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 13, 2016
Austin American-Statesman

A federal judge Friday blocked Texas from enforcing a state law that limits the availability of interpreters in polling places, ruling that it violates protections guaranteed by the U.S. Voting Rights Act.

The ruling by U.S. District Judge Robert Pitman of Austin came in a lawsuit filed on behalf of Mallika Das, who was born in India and who, in October 2014, brought her son into a Round Rock polling station to act as an interpreter because she had limited proficiency in English.

Officials at the Williamson County polling station, however, barred Saurabh Das from helping his mother, relying on a state election law that requires interpreters to be registered to vote in the same county as the person they intend to help.

Because Saurabh Das was registered in Travis County, his mother had to vote without his help.

In a summary judgment relying on briefs and a hearing held Monday, Pitman ruled that the residency requirement violated Section 208 of the Voting Rights Act, which guarantees voters the right to be helped by a person of their choice if they need assistance because of blindness, disability or inability to read or write.

To enjoy the same opportunity to vote as other citizens, Pitman wrote, limited-language voters must be able to navigate polling stations and communicate with election officers.

“They must be able to understand and fill out any required forms, and to understand and to answer any questions directed at them by election officers. And they must be able to do so with the assistance of a person whom they trust,” the judge added.

In addition to voiding the law on interpreters at the ballot box, Pitman gave state lawyers seven days to provide him with “additional remedies” needed to protect the rights of limited-language voters. Lawyers for Das will have another seven days to respond to the state’s suggestions.

The lawsuit was filed on Mallika Das’ behalf by the Organization of Chinese Americans-Greater Houston, a nonprofit that seeks to improve the social, political and economic well-being of Asian-Americans and Pacific-Americans.

Das, however, died before the case could be completed, but Pitman rejected state lawyers’ request to dismiss the lawsuit, ruling that the organization had standing to continue in her place.

Pitman also ordered the state to pay the organization’s legal fees and court costs.

No Time to Lose: How to Build a World-Class Education System State by State

Go to this website for the actual, downloadable report recently out of the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL).


 No Time to Lose: How to Build a World-Class Education System State by State 


The bad news is most state education systems are falling dangerously behind the world in a number of international comparisons and on our own National Assessment of Educational Progress, leaving the United States overwhelmingly underprepared to succeed in the 21st century economy.
The U.S. workforce, widely acknowledged to be the best educated in the world half a century ago, is now among the least well-educated in the world, according to recent studies.
At this pace, we will struggle to compete economically against even developing nations, and our children will struggle to find jobs in the global economy.
States have found little success. Recent reforms have underperformed because of silver bullet strategies and piecemeal approaches.

Meanwhile, high-performing countries implement policies and practices and build comprehensive systems that look drastically different from ours, leading them to the success that has eluded states. Pockets of improvement in a few districts or states is not enough to retain our country’s global competitiveness.
The good news is, by studying these other high-performing systems, we are discovering what seems to work. Common elements are present in nearly every world-class education system, including a strong early education system, a reimagined and professionalized teacher workforce, robust career and technical education programs, and a comprehensive, aligned system of education. These elements are not found in the U.S. in a consistent, well-designed manner as they are found in high performers.
We have the ability to turn things around. Much higher-performing, yet less-developed countries—such as Poland and Singapore—have made significant progress developing their education systems in just a decade or two because they felt a strong sense of urgency.
State policymakers, too, can get started right away to turn around our education system by taking immediate steps to:
  • Build an inclusive team and set priorities. 
  • Study and learn from top performers.
  • Create a shared statewide vision.
  • Benchmark policies.
  • Get started on one piece.
  • Work through “messiness.”
  • Invest the time. 
We must directly face these challenges and begin immediately to reimagine and re-engineer our own education system. We must implement meaningful and comprehensive changes that will produce real results for our students.
State legislators must lead this work. Education is first and foremost a state responsibility. Each state can develop its own strategies for building a modern education system that is globally competitive, similar to the approach taken by other high-performing countries.
But we must begin now. There’s no time to lose.

Release Event

2016 NCSL Legislative SummitA media event was held Aug. 9 at the 2016 NCSL Legislative Summit to release “No Time to Lose: How to Build a World-Class Education System State by State” to the media.

About the Study Group

The National Conference of State Legislatures hosted a plenary session during its 2013 Fall Forum to discuss the results of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s (OECD) most recent survey of what 15-year-olds in industrialized countries could demonstrate about their knowledge of reading, mathematics and science. This survey is known as the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA). Upon hearing of the disappointing performance of students in the U.S., officers of NCSL’s Standing Committee on Education requested that NCSL launch a legislative study into international comparisons of high-performing education systems. They wanted to study other high-performing countries to learn which policies and practices were in place and what lessons the U.S. and individual states might learn from their success. They also wanted to learn about the consequences for our economy and quality of life if we failed to improve our standing.
A bipartisan group of 28 veteran legislators and legislative staff, along with several partners from the private sector, began an 18-month study in 2014. They focused on the highest performing countries on PISA to discover commonalities across their policies and practices. They met with education leaders from these countries, along with national and international experts who study their systems. They also visited several countries to see the differences firsthand.
This first report explains why there’s no time to lose in rebuilding state education systems.  However NCSL’s study group still has questions—and surely the reader does too—about how to design and implement these systemic changes in the states. Where should legislators begin—teacher recruitment or preparation, standards, assessments, early learning? How should states realign their resources? Do some of these policies fit together better into an actionable package? There is still much to learn and discover.
The study group members will continue to meet through 2017 to find the answers to these and other questions by continuing to study and learn from other successful countries, as well as districts and states here in the U.S. Upon completion of our study, the study group will produce a policy roadmap that states can use to guide their reforms, as well as provide support to states ready to embark on these efforts

Selena - Mexican American Music of Today - Mi Musica with Selena Quintan...

Just came across this wonderful history lesson on Tejano music by the late Selena Quintanilla herself.  Listen to Part I and then go to Part II to see the remaining part of her presentation (scroll down to my other blog post this morning).

By Dr. Deborah Paredez
 I am happy to see she got excellent advice on this by people whose work I know and respect, including Dr. Olga Najera Ramirez, Dr. Manuel Peña, and Abel Salas.  On so many levels—and of course, especially for her family—her senseless death at the tender age of 24 when she was murdered is profoundly tragic.

Here is a great biography of her on wikipedia which is the source of this next paragraph that reveals her singular impact on music history albeit posthumously:

Dreaming of You, the crossover album Selena had been working on at the time of her death, was released in July 1995. It sold 175,000 copies on the day of its release in the U.S.—a then-record for a female vocalist—and sold 331,000 copies its first week.[229][230] Selena became the third female artist to sell over 300,000 units in one week, after Janet Jackson and Mariah Carey.[231] It debuted at number one on the U.S. Billboard 200 chart, becoming the first album by a Hispanic artist to do so.[232][233][234] Dreaming of You helped Selena to become the first solo artist to debut a posthumous album at number one.[235] The recording was among the top-ten best-selling debuts for a musician, and was the best-selling debut by a female act.[236] Dreaming of You joined five of Selena's studio albums on the Billboard 200 chart simultaneously, making Selena the first female artist in Billboard history to do so.[237] The album was certified 35x platinum by the RIAA, for shipping more than 3.5 million copies in the U.S. alone.[74][238] As of 2015, the recording has sold five million copies worldwide, becoming the best-selling Latin album of all-time in the United States.[239] In 2008, Joey Guerra of the Houston Chronicle said its lead single, "I Could Fall in Love", had "made the Tejano goddess a posthumous crossover star".[240] Her death was believed to have sparked an interest in Latin music by people who were unaware of its existence.[241][207][242] It was also believed her death "open[ed] the doors" to other Latin musicians such as Jennifer Lopez,[243] Ricky Martin, and Shakira.[244]
Our Tejana music legend, our own Tejana "candle in the wind," your death remains as wildly absurd today as is was the day that it happened on March 31, 1995.  We miss you, Selena, but are thankful for your many legacies, including this lesson on Tejano/a music and its roots and influences, rightfully positioning it as a contribution to our world's musical heritage.

Angela Valenzuela

Selena - Mexican American Music of Today - Mi Musica with Selena Quintan...

Thursday, August 11, 2016

50th Anniversary Celebration of 1966 Starr County Farm Worker Strike that sparked the Mexican American Civil Rights Movement in Texas , Sept. 11, 2016, Austin, Texas


Consider attending a day of festivities (see flyer below) that commemorates the 50th anniversary of the 1966 Farm Workers Strike and March, which sparked the Mexican American Civil Rights  (a.k.a. Chicana/o) Movement in Texas.

Taking place on Sunday, September 11th at 1PM, there will be a program at St. Edwards University in Austin, Texas.  The group that has assembled at 1pm will march to the Capitol. The program at the Capitol beings at 4pm.

You can help by spreading the word to students, college and university faculty statewide, as well as to your personal networks.  

For additional information, contact: Julia Kranzthor <>  You may also go to for more information, including newspaper articles, photos and other data useful to teachers, students, and the general public.

This is very exciting!  Will try my best to make it!

Angela Valenzuela

Monday, August 08, 2016

How to 'Grow Your Own' Teacher Workforce - SXSWedu Panel Proposal

Help us share our new text - Growing Critically Conscious Teachers - and promote the broader Grow Your Own Teacher movement before a global audience at South by Southwest—SXSWedu 2017. 

To support our work:  Create a PanelPicker account, and then Vote for our proposal.

The public voting period begins today—August 8, 2016.


While SXSW is known for showcasing new technology, research shows that all
too often, the excitement of innovation and constant change leaves many
Latino/a students, and other people of color stuck in the shallow end of
the tech pool.

Sadly, the same is often true for "innovation" within human resources, where market-based ideologies promote "efficiencies" that actually increase barriers between caring, committed, and critically conscious applicants within our communities, and school district hiring managers (Principals, HR Staff).

As a consequence, far too often our students of color are being led by
teachers who do not share their background, and are not prepared to
approach teaching from a critically conscious or culturally relevant

However, within the SXSWedu conference, there are categories for both equality and leadership, and we plan to "share research and case studies that outline how innovative school districts disrupt traditional hiring practices to recruit and retain highly qualified, diverse teachers eager to embrace critical and culturally relevant pedagogies."

Please promote this important session, and hopefully you will be able to join us during Spring Break 2017 as we share this important research with a global audience of influential educators.

Thanks to EPP Doctoral student, Michael Barnes, for suggesting this together with this great under 2-minute presentation that I encourage you to listen to.

Angela Valenzuela, Ph.D., 
UT Professor and Director,
National Latino/a Education Research and Policy Project (NLERAP [pronounced "Nel-rap"]), the organization that originated this Grow-Your-Own Latina and Latino teacher education pipeline.