State Board’s Approval of This Textbook Would be a Travesty—Speak Out!

A broad coalition of organizations and scholars from across Texas is calling on the State Board of Education to reject a proposed Mexican-American studies textbook that promotes offensive cultural stereotypes, distorts history and is plagued by factual errors. Texas AFT is a partner in this coalition.

The textbook on Mexican-American history and culture proposed for Texas public schools is plagued with errors, distorts history, and makes offensive claims about Mexican Americans and others. It has no place in a Texas classroom, especially a class about the experiences and contributions of Mexican Americans in our country’s history.

Mexican American Heritage is the only ethnic-studies textbook currently proposed by a publisher for consideration by the State Board of Education. The State Board will likely hold public hearings on the textbook at its September 13-16 and November 15-18 meetings in Austin. A final vote on adoption is scheduled for the November meeting.

Scholars from across Texas and outside the state have been reviewing the textbook. Click here to learn more about what they are saying about this deeply flawed, offensive textbook.

To sign a petition calling on the State Board of Education to reject this textbook—and to view instructions on emailing your own public comment against adoption of this textbook by the September 2 deadline—click here.

Among the problems that scholars have identified with the textbook are these:

Stunning lack of expertise and scholarship: The authors appear to have no scholarly background or other expertise in Mexican American studies.

Offensive racial stereotypes: Right after noting the offensive stereotype of Mexicans as “lazy,” the authors reinforce that stereotype in a discussion of relations between workers and American industrialists in Mexico in the late 1800s. From the textbook (page 248):

“Industrialists were very driven, competitive men who were always on the clock and continually concerned about efficiency. They were used to their workers putting in a full day’s work, quietly and obediently, and respecting rules, authority, and property. In contrast, Mexican laborers were not reared to put in a full day’s work so vigorously. There was a cultural attitude of ‘mañana,’ or ‘tomorrow,’ when it came to high-gear production.”

Shockingly poor understanding of Texas and Mexican history: Discussions of post-independence Mexico, especially as it concerns Texas and the other territories that would be lost after the Mexican-American War, are exceedingly poorly written and researched. Considering the centrality of this era in the formation of “the Mexican American,” it is unacceptably shallow, uncritically examined and essentially ignores the history of areas like New Mexico and Arizona. Details that are common in the fourth-grade Texas history textbook (and one would expect would be well-examined in a high school level book dealing with Mexican American history) like the empresario system (and the various schemes to colonize)…are completely missing. Considering how overwhelmingly important the Texas Revolution is to the subject of the textbook, the thin and ill-informed coverage of that event is unacceptable.