Overdue: A Mexican-American Studies Elective for Texas High Schools

On April 8 we expect the State Board of Education to begin considering additions to the menu of course offerings that form the state curriculum for high schools. We are pleased to join SBOE member Ruben Cortez, Democrat of Brownsville, and others in suggesting the addition of an elective course in Mexican-American studies.

You can add your voice to the nonpartisan call for this overdue action by the State Board by e-mailing a letter to Board chair Barbara Cargill and the rest of the Board ahead of next week’s meetings in Austin. Here’s the ready-to-send text of that letter, to which you can add your own comments if you choose:

Dear Chairwoman Cargill and members of the State Board:

I am writing to ask your support for adding an elective course in Mexican-American studies to the state curriculum for Texas high schools.

 Mexican-Americans have made a deep and durable imprint on the history of Texas and indeed the entire nation. That reality should be reflected in our state curriculum.  

 Another reality is this:  Texas is on its way to becoming a majority Hispanic state. Hispanics are projected to account for more that 70 percent of Texas’ population growth through 2050. Hispanic students already make up a majority of the pupils enrolled in our public schools. In order to educate all our students appropriately, the curriculum of our public schools should reflect both the cultural history and demographic future of Texas.

 The full demographic diversity of the state of course deserves to be addressed and celebrated as well. Adding a course in Mexican-American studies to reflect the huge Mexican-American presence and contribution in Texas does not detract from that goal at all. If anything, it would set a healthy precedent for the inclusion of ethnic/cultural studies in our schools.

It is time for the Mexican-American presence in our curriculum to match more closely the Mexican-American presence in our state. Please vote at your April 2014 meeting to include an elective course in the study of Mexican-American history and culture in the curriculum and instruction provided and approved by the State Board of Education for Texas high schools. And thank you for ensuring that all students learn about the contributions people from all backgrounds have made and continue to make to Texas.