Wednesday, May 30, 2018

The 9.9 Percent is the New American Aristocracy by Matthew Stewart

This long piece by Matthew Stewart of The Atlantic merits a close read.  There are a lot of sobering statistics here.  For example,
According to Miles Corak, an economics professor at the City University of New York, half a century ago IGE in America was less than 0.3. Today, it is about 0.5. In America, the game is half over once you’ve selected your parents. IGE is now higher here than in almost every other developed economy. On this measure of economic mobility, the United States is more like Chile or Argentina than Japan or Germany.
Thanks to Roberto Aguilar for sharing.


 | JUNE 2018 ISSUE

The Aristocracy Is Dead …

For about a week every year in my childhood, I was a member of one of America’s fading aristocracies. Sometimes around Christmas, more often on the Fourth of July, my family would take up residence at one of my grandparents’ country clubs in Chicago, Palm Beach, or Asheville, North Carolina. The breakfast buffets were magnificent, and Grandfather was a jovial host, always ready with a familiar story, rarely missing an opportunity for gentle instruction on proper club etiquette. At the age of 11 or 12, I gathered from him, between his puffs of cigar smoke, that we owed our weeks of plenty to Great-Grandfather, Colonel Robert W. Stewart, a Rough Rider with Teddy Roosevelt who made his fortune as the chairman of Standard Oil of Indiana in the 1920s. I was also given to understand that, for reasons traceable to some ancient and incomprehensible dispute, the Rockefellers were the mortal enemies of our clan. Only much later in life did I learn that the stories about the Colonel and his tangles with titans fell far short of the truth.

At the end of each week, we would return to our place. My reality was the aggressively middle-class world of 1960s and ’70s U.S. military bases and the communities around them. Life was good there, too, but the pizza came from a box, and it was Lucky Charms for breakfast. Our glory peaked on the day my parents came home with a new Volkswagen camper bus. As I got older, the holiday pomp of patriotic luncheons and bridge-playing rituals came to seem faintly ridiculous and even offensive, like an endless birthday party for people whose chief accomplishment in life was just showing up. I belonged to a new generation that believed in getting ahead through merit, and we defined merit in a straightforward way: test scores, grades, competitive résumé-stuffing, supremacy in board games and pickup basketball, and, of course, working for our keep. For me that meant taking on chores for the neighbors, punching the clock at a local fast-food restaurant, and collecting scholarships to get through college and graduate school. I came into many advantages by birth, but money was not among them.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018



Please attend the Austin press conference tomorrow in solidarity!  Also consider signing this petition.

Ours is a progressive movement led by the K-12 Committee of the NACCS-Tejas Foco for curricular inclusion before the Texas State Board of Education, beginning with our name as a field, “Mexican American Studies.”


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:                                                                  May 30, 2018



Where:            Raul Salinas Room, Emma S. Barrientos Mexican American Cultural Center 

                        Note: Don’t pay for public parking. Go inside to the ESB-MACC office and get a parking pass that you can slip into the dash of your car.

When:              TOMORROW, Wednesday, May 30, 2018 at 1:30 pm

Contact:          Emilio Zamora, 512 739-0168
                     Greg Pulte, 469 831-0408

The K-12 Committee of the National Association for Chicana and Chicano Studies, Tejas Foco (Chapter) is sponsoring press conferences in six cities tomorrow (Wednesday, May 30) on the State Board of Education and its vote to change the name of the Mexican American Studies course.  One of these press conferences will be held in Austin.

K-12 Committee members want to bring attention to the decision by the State Board of Education to change the name of a Mexican American Studies course for our public schools to Ethnic Studies: An Overview of Americans of Mexican Descent.  We also want to invite people to show up for the June 12 Board meeting.  During this board meeting, we will protest the name change.  We will also be calling for the adoption of a Women and Gender Studies course and the creation of a resource center that would include curricular materials for teachers wishing to teach Mexican American Studies, as well as other fields of study.


On Friday, April 13, 2018, the Texas State Board of Education (TXSBOE) approved Texas Essential Skills and Knowledge (TEKS) standards for a Mexican American Studies (MAS) elective course for high school students. This is the first time in Texas and U.S. history that a state board of education approved a MAS course. The TXSBOE also voted to open the process to create other Ethnic Studies courses, including Native American Studies, African American Studies, Latino Studies, and Asian/Pacific Islander Studies.

The TXSBOE vote to approve this MAS course should have been an historic accomplishment. The vote, however, was offensive and unacceptable.  We demand that the TXSBOE change the name of the course back to its original title, Mexican American Studies, for the following reasons:

1.     The course approved by the TXSBOE modeled itself after the Innovative course that the Houston Independent School District adopted with the consent of the Texas Education Agency. Its title, Mexican American Studies, reflects the Mexican American Studies declared course content and purpose;

2.     Mexican American Studies is an established Field of Study in Texas as authorized by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, the higher education counterpart to the TXSBOE. One of the main purposes of this designation is to align the curriculum across the educational pipeline and to grant the courses the necessary transferability from the high schools to the community colleges and universities. Naming the course Mexican American Studies conforms with the name of the field of study and policy of the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, and the logic of alignment and transferability;

3.     The stated reasons for changing the Mexican American Studies title are ahistorical and misleading. The term Mexican American is not divisive or biased. Mexican American has been the most popular English language self-referent since the early 1900s and the typical way to refer to Mexican-origin persons in the U.S. It affirms an American identity and national allegiance at the same time that it claims a Mexican ancestry. The term is no different from others, such as African Americans, Italian Americans, and Native Americans. Lastly, the use of the term Mexican expands the cultural meaning of American.

4.     Mexican Americans, as Indigenous people to this continent of America and an ethnic/racial minority in the U.S., have the right to self-identification. This right to name oneself at the individual and collective level is protected by the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, specifically the Declaration on the Rights of Persons Belonging to National or Ethnic, Religious and Linguistic Minorities. Mexican Americans have the right to tell their own stories, and those that have been written in their name, including the vast body of scholarly literature that uses the term Mexican American to describe their work and the courses that high school, college and university instructors are currently teaching;

5.     The large number of Mexican Americans in Texas public schools call for the designation of Mexican American Studies. Mexican Americans and other Latinx students comprise 52% of the almost 5.4 million students in Texas schools Pre-K-12, and this will grow to almost 70% by 2050;

6.     The title Mexican American Studies conforms with Mexican American Studies courses that Texas school districts have already adopted (some of which have been approved or allowed by the TXSBOE), as well as Social Studies, Texas and U.S. history courses that emphasize Mexican American history and contemporary experiences. In addition, the TXSBOE and Texas Education Agency have approved course content in Mexican American Studies since, at least, the 1980s, and called for textbooks in Mexican American Studies with Proclamations 2016 and 2018;

7.     In singling out the name change for this Mexican American Studies course, the TXSBOE has created a glaring inconsistency with the other endorsed courses included in the vote: Native American Studies, African American Studies, Latino Studies and Asian/Pacific Islander Studies; and

8.     The word "Overview" in the name change calls for a cursory treatment and not an in-depth examination of the subject, in contradiction with the broad purpose and content of this course. In addition, Mexican Americans/Chicanxs do not identify with the term “Americans of Mexican Descent.” It is a throwback to the 1950s Jim Crow era of segregation when Texas school officials disparaged the racial and ethnic makeup of Black and Brown youth.

In light of the renaming action by the TXSBOE, and all the reasons stated above, our questions for the nine Anglo Republicans and one Latina Democrat who voted for this name change are: What are the real reasons that you voted for this name change? Is it true, as board member Bradley stated to the press, that the TXSBOE would have never voted for the approval of this MAS course if the name had not been changed? And if so, why not? Who gave the very partisan TXSBOE the right to change the name of an entire and significant ethnic group of people in Texas and the U.S.?  Why was Mexican American Studies singled out? Does this constitute outright discrimination, or conscious/unconscious political bias?

Mexican Americans, and the diverse students of all colors and ethnicities in Texas public schools have the right to learn and understand the many positive contributions Mexican Americans and other ethnic groups have made to Texas and American history.

The National Association for Chicana and Chicano Studies Tejas Foco Committee on Mexican American Studies Pre-K-12 has been working tirelessly over the last five years to advance Mexican American and other Ethnic Studies in Texas schools with significantly positive and historic results. The recent decision by the TXSBOE to misname this Mexican American Studies course represents another obstacle to our work, and a hindrance to learning in our schools. We are committed to opposing this name change until the TXSBOE adopts the original title of this course: Mexican American Studies.


This NACCS Tejas Statement will be presented to the elected members of the Texas State Board of Education at their next meeting on Tuesday, June 12, 2018 at the William B. Travis Building (1701 Congress Ave., Austin, TX 78701). A "Protest the Name Change Press Conference & Rally" will precede the board meeting from 8:30-9:30am. The public is invited to attend the Rally and to testify before the board.