Sunday, December 01, 2019

HISD Needs African American Studies Now—from Antonio Diaz of Nuestra Palabra

HISD Needs African American Studies NOW!

Of course, the Librotraficantes want the Texas State Board of Education (SBOE) to endorse African American Studies unanimously-the way Mexican American Studies was endorsed last year. But that is not enough. 

That’s not enough because now the Texas Education Agency (TEA) which presides over the Texas SBOE has taken over the Houston Independent School District. So, they must also introduce African American Studies, as well as all the other components of cutting-edge and brilliant curriculum to Wheatley High School, which due to neglect from the state has failed to meet testing requirements for 7 years straight. 

Additionally, we should not let the TX SBOE off the hook. Had they immediately endorsed and supported Mexican American Studies in 2012, when we first went to the Texas State Board of Education to demand it, the Texas education system would be vastly different. If Ethnic Studies had been extolled and supported and implemented in Texas public schools 7 years ago, HISD, and all the other public schools that are suffering would not be in this situation where our youth are failing standardized tests. 

I know this because we paraded the evidence across the stage of the Texas State Board of Education for 6 years. We shared the evidence that our brothers and sisters developed in Arizona to prove that Ethnic Studies increased student performance, attendance, engagement and increased the graduation rate by double digits. All that evidence was created to overcome the 2012 banning of Ethnic Studies in Arizona. 

Texas did not ban it, but the Republican led Texas State Board of Education did not make it easy on us. If you ask me, I can send you some of the essays, radio posts and tv interviews we did to make our case. However, every step of the way, we always made sure to demand that Mexican American Studies get approved, and we also included a path for African American, Native American, and Asian American Studies. Also, we were joined by African American, Native American, Asian, and Anglo allies along the way. 

We are proud to see that African American Studies is poised to get passed. So, first, let me make this very clear. The Texas State Board of Education must pass African American Studies unanimously or we will be getting on busses again to drive from Austin to stand with our African American brothers and sisters and protest. 

I know the TX SBOE will do the right thing. I appreciate that. Because that will make Texas the first state of the union to endorse both Mexican American Studies and African American Studies. But that is not enough. 

Now that we are at this plateau of history, where Ethnic Studies is not controversial-in Texas The Texas State Board of Education must put African American Studies on the fast track to be implemented in Wheatley High School, first. 

The Texas Education Agency has taken over HISD, so they can do what they want. They must do this. And then they must develop the infrastructure, material and teachers to spread it to all HISD schools. It must also do the same with Mexican American Studies. Since the Republican run TEA and SBOE run the entire HISD system, they are the only ones holding us all back. 

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