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Texas Board of Education Rejects Mexican American Studies Textbook


Cover of the rejected textbook.
  • Cover of the rejected textbook.
The Texas Board of Education has unanimously voted to bar the controversial Mexican American Heritage textbook from being used in public schools across the state.

The textbook, which contained racist stereotypes and historical errors, was the only submission to the board's 2014 request for a new Mexican American Studies textbook.  The board announced a second call for submissions yesterday.

Mexican American Heritage's original submission was littered with some 900 errors, according to expert reviewers. One section initially described Mexican American laborers as lazy compared to "American industrialists." Another section erased slavery's role in igniting the Civil War, instead calling it a battle over state's rights. And instead of underlining the importance of the Chicano rights moment in the 1970s, the textbook says Chicano activists “wanted to destroy this society.” The list of erroneous, and blatantly racist, passages goes on.

The board's vote comes a day after its members listened to testimony from scholars, activists and politicians who have fought adamantly against the textbook's use. Despite attempts from the book's publisher, Momentum Instruction, to fix the original text's errors, experts said they still found more than 400 errors in the most recent updated draft. Board member Ruben Cortez said the current textbook would only perpetuate the hate speech and harassment Hispanic Americans have dealt with during Donald Trump's campaign and following his election.

“This ‘bad hombre’ is going to ask the State Board of Education to reject this book during a roll call vote,” Cortez said after yesterday's hearing.

Out of the 37 people who testified, only two people supported the textbook. One of them was Cynthia Dunbar, the CEO of
Momentum Instruction and herself a former Republican SBOE member.

Dunbar told reporters after yesterday's testimony
she had sent the board a letter from a constitutional lawyer who insisted rejecting the book would be "unconstitutional," but did not explain how. In the past, Dunbar has said that blocking the book could be seen as censorship.

The board disagreed. Before this morning's vote, board member Thomas Ratliff clarified what a vote against the textbook signifies.

"What we are not doing is censoring a textbook. Nothing prohibits either of these publishers to print the books exactly as it is...nothing we do will prohibit them from selling them to public school districts in Texas," he said. "What we are doing is we are following Texas Education Code and our rules. We are not engaging in politics or personalities."

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