Senator: If this textbook was a research paper, it would receive an F

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Proposed Mexican-American studies textbook fails to live up to standards of Texas education.

Guest-viewpoint by T.X. Sen. José Menéndez (D-San Antonio)

José Menéndez Courtesy

José Menéndez Courtesy

When the Texas State Board of Education, or SBOE, voted to add Mexican-American studies to Texas curricula as an official course two years ago, it was already long overdue.

More than half of Texas public school students are Hispanic and the state’s long history with Mexico has shaped our distinct culture and heritage immensely.

However, the textbook currently being vetted by the SBOE, “Mexican-American Heritage,” does not live up to that important history nor meet the high standards of the Texas education system.

If a student turned in this textbook as a research paper, it would receive an F.

The proposed textbook contains glaring and harmful errors about the history of Mexican-Americans.

It has no place being taught in Texas schools.

Among its many mistakes, the book states on Page 414, “Chicanos, on the other hand, adopted a revolutionary narrative that opposed Western civilization and wanted to destroy this society.”

It also falsely states on Page 454, “Due to the fact that illegal immigrants fear deportation and involvement with legal authorities, crime and exploitation can circulate unabated in their neighborhoods. Those who have hostile views toward American government and culture may also gain strongholds in immigrant communities because of the difficult challenges they face. This may express itself in various unhealthy ways.”

It is simply unacceptable to allow these untrue statements and distortions of history to be presented to our children as fact.

Like millions of Texans, I am a proud Mexican-American.

My mother immigrated from Mexico as a nurse to find a better life.

This textbook about our shared history is as offensive as it is inaccurate. Our children deserve better.

Textbooks are the cornerstones of our education system. Sadly, this poorly written book undermines that system and its core purpose, putting our students’ educations at risk.

Textbooks are trusted as credible sources of information for both teachers and students. Unfortunately, the authors of this book did not bother to ensure the material was correct or historically accurate.

Though we’ve already found many errors, there are likely many more examples scattered throughout the book.

We would expect more effort from our students, so let’s hold the writers of this book accountable and not permit fiction to be taught under the guise of history in our classrooms.

Whether or not to adopt this error-ridden book should not be the subject of debate.

It is a simple matter of fact; this textbook does not adequately — or honestly —teach our children about the heritage of Mexican-Americans.

It absolutely should not be the standard-bearer for our classrooms where 51% of students are Hispanic.

Our students merit quality, dependable and responsible learning materials. This textbook fails at all three of those criteria.

Utilizing this textbook in Texas classrooms will do more harm than good for our students, because it makes a mockery of their heritage, culture and history.

Regardless of if this text is approved by SBOE, local school board members should oppose adopting this book in their districts and instead look for a suitable, more factual alternative.

Under Texas law, school districts have the right to choose their own curriculum materials.

We wouldn’t print a math textbook with incorrect formulas, so why should we approve a Mexican-American studies book with historical errors?

Texas schools and students deserve better than this inaccurate textbook.

Together, we can ensure the next generation of Texans receives the best education possible and that starts with factual and responsible textbooks.


1 Comment

  1. Tony Villanueva on

    Thank you Senator Menendez for speaking out against the proposed textbook. I would urge others to call SBOE committee members and elected officials to voice concerns about the adoption of this textbook in public schools. There are too many errors and inaccurate depictions of Mexican Americans to allow for its adoption.

    Tony Villanueva
    President of PAC AAUP &
    Asst. Professor of Psychology at Palo Alto College

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