The Texas Board of Education heard testimony this afternoon about a proposed Mexican-American studies elective high school class that could be offered state wide.
As the AP reports, proponents of the of the program say it will offer students a deeper understanding of the state’s history. The AP adds:
“Critics, though, dismiss the effort as an attempt to inject progressive politics into the classroom.
“The board’s 10 Republicans and five Democrats will hold a public hearing Tuesday, then vote on possible new courses later in the week. It’s the first time Texas has considered such a course. But the issue isn’t new in other border states, including California, where a recently introduced bill would mandate creating a model for a standardized, statewide ethnic studies course there.
“Even if Texas’ Mexican-American studies course is approved, developing a statewide curriculum and appropriate textbooks means it won’t actually be ready for classrooms for two to three years. But the debate should re-ignite past ideological battles about what goes into the history curriculums taught in America’s second most-populous state.”
During the hearing on Tuesday, the board heard testimony from teachers and students praising the proposal.
One woman told the board that Latinos make up a “fundamental part of Texas history” and their history shouldn’t be treated as that of an interest group.
Of course, in other states, this issue has proven immensely controversial. In Arizona, for example, ethnic studies were banned in 2011 by a law passed in 2010.
“The state decided the classes promoted racism and classism toward Anglos, advocated ethnic solidarity and suggested the overthrow of the government,” NPR’s Ted Robbins reported.
That sentiment was echoed by David Bradley, a Republican board member in Texas.
“We’re all Americans. To suggest otherwise is to further segregate and divide the community,” he told the AP. “I’m sorry if I disappoint some folks, but it’s almost reverse racism.”
It’s not clear how much support Mexican-American studies have on the panel. What is clear is that Latinos now make up the majority in Texas schools.