Schools may add Mexican-American studies in Texas. where more than half of the public school students are of a Hispanic background.
The Texas Board of Education considered a long-shot proposal that would add a Mexican-American studies course as a statewide high school elective, listening to dozens of supporters who said such a class is the only way to truly understand a state where Hispanics make up 51 percent of public school students and which was once part of Mexico.
During hours of often-heated testimony, some backers of the proposal choked back tears and others argued bitterly with skeptical board members. Those opposed to the course say it would inject progressive politics into the classroom.
The board’s 10 Republicans and five Democrats vote on new courses Wednesday. It’s the first time Texas has considered a Mexican-American studies class, and specifics on exactly what the course would teach haven’t yet been devised — especially since historic figures of Mexican descent and Mexican-American culture are already covered in existing history and other classes at the high school level.
Even if approved, developing a Mexican-American curriculum and appropriate textbooks means it wouldn’t actually be ready for classrooms for two to three years. But the debate re-ignited past ideological battles over the academic curriculums of America’s second most-populous state.
“The whole world is watching and the whole world is changed,” Tony Diaz, an activist from Houston, told the board. “It will never go back to the way it was. I mention that because Texas is behind, we need to help Texas catch up.”
Several Texas school boards, including its largest in Houston, have passed resolutions supporting a statewide Mexican-American studies course, and the state already offers more than 200 high school electives, including floral design. Still the proposal likely won’t pass.
Some Republicans on the board have said they’d be more amenable to a class encompassing the accomplishments of Mexican-Americans but also Texans of other races and ethnicities.
“From what I’m hearing, we have a tough road to climb,” said Ruben Cortez, a Democratic board member from Brownsville who proposed the course, adding “it shouldn’t be controversial.”
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