^
Keep Dallas Observer Free
4

Texas State Board of Education Votes Down Controversial Mexican-American Studies Text

Mexican American Heritage was dead on arrival. Just as they promised in September, members of the Texas State Board of Education rejected the book, labeled as "racist," "inaccurate" and "embarrassing" by opponents. Wednesday's preliminary vote was  14-0 against adopting the book as a text approved for use in Texas' classrooms.

The book, published by a company owned by former conservative firebrand board of education member Cynthia Dunbar, describes Mexicans as "viewed as lazy compared to European or American workers." Mexicans, according to the book, operated on something called "mañana time," meaning they looked to put things off until tomorrow. Chicano activists in the '60s, the book also claimed, "adopted a revolutionary narrative that opposed Western civilization and wanted to destroy this society." An essay in the book about about former Mexican president Benito Juarez is available for purchase on a website called 123helpme.com.

As Mexican American Heritage has gone through vetting by the board, scholars, Texas legislators and members of the board have all come out against the book.

"This book is so flawed that it should never get the stamp of approval from anyone in the state of Texas," state Senator Sylvia Garcia said at a board hearing in September. "The board approval of this textbook would be a major embarrassment to this state. I personally have found the textbook unacceptable. It is one thing to hear political rhetoric that calls us lazy and calls us names, but we should never expect it as facts and accept it and put it in textbooks."

Before Wednesday's vote, Dunbar sent a letter to the board claiming that they were censoring her textbook. Board member Thomas Ratliff, a Republican, flatly rejected Dunbar's claims. During the initial hearing for the book in September, Ratliff described the text as "dead on arrival" saying it had no chance to get the board's stamp of approval.

I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Dallas and help keep the future of Dallas Observer free.

"I think it's important to say what we are doing and what we aren't doing. What we are not doing is censoring a textbook," Ratliff said Wednesday. "Nothing prohibits [Dunbar] from printing the book exactly as it is. Nothing prohibits [her] from resubmitting the book and nothing that we are doing prevents [her] from selling the book to Texas school districts. What we are doing is following Texas education policy and our rules."

After the vote, Texas Democratic Party Chair Gilberto Hinojosa credited the board with rejecting racism.

“This is bigger than just a textbook, it speaks to the ongoing fight to ensure Texas embraces all of its children. How can we solve challenges like health care, education, or find good jobs if we have such blatant racism in our schools?" Hinojosa said.

Wednesday's vote is expected to be made final at Friday's board meeting.

Keep the Dallas Observer Free... Since we started the Dallas Observer, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Dallas, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Dallas with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.

 

Join the Observer community and help support independent local journalism in Dallas.

 

Join the Observer community and help support independent local journalism in Dallas.