10 Myths the Texas State Board of Education (TX SBOE) Uses to Kill Mexican American Studies
Friday, January 31, 2014 the Texas State Board of Education (SBOE) can boldly lead Texas education into a multicultural, multimedia era and vote to implement Mexican American Studies courses as an option for schools. Or, the SBOE can live up to its old ways and take the state closer to becoming far right Republican Arizona. This is the same board that a few years back wanted to eliminate or downplay the roll of such figures as MLK, Cesar Chavez, and Benjamin Franklin.So in an effort to give you some rhetorical weapons when you enter the SBOE dojo, here are 10 Myths the Texas State Board of Education (TX SBOE) Uses to Kill Mexican American Studies
Myth 1. On January 31, 2014, The Texas State Board of Education (TX SBOE) is implementing courses mandated by the new law HB5. That’s why Mexican American Studies is not up for vote. It’s not mandated.
Truth -Implementing Alebra II was not mandated by law; however, Algebra II is the 5th course the SBOE is voting to implement. The Texas State Board of Education must make Mexican American Studies the 6th course to implement.
Myth 2. The Texas State Board of Education will implement Mexican American Studies next time.
Truth - There is no next time. First, try to get a fixed date, time, or process for anything the TX SBOE does. You won’t. Secondly, The new law HB5 forced the TX SBOE to exert its power-this time. Next year they will say they are too busy dealing with the first year that HB5 is in effect. The time for M.A.S. is now.
Myth 3. TX SBOE Rep. Maynard suggests that we get Mexican American Studies approved under “ Innovative Courses” which can then be taught at any school district.
Truth -If you have time, energy, and patience, you can look up some of the currently SBOE approved “Innovative Courses.” These include cool classes such as:
“Stage Combat / Theatrical Movement” or “PE3: PE for the Mind, Body, & Spirit” or “Peace I–II”
These classes sound great, but most school districts don’t even know these options exist or what to do with them. Why didn’t the SBOE make Algebra II an “Innovative Course”? “Innovative Courses” is the minor leagues for classes. Mexican American Studies deserves the major leagues of official SBOE Course implementation.
Myth 4. Texas SBOE representative keep saying that any school district can teach Mexican American Studies right now.
Truth - This is the same SBOE that insists that the Mexican American Studies curriculum does not exist. Thus the SBOE is saying that which does not exist can be taught at any Texas School District. On top of that, there are over 1,200 school districts in Texas. The largest, Houston ISD, has over 270 schools. The only way Algebra II will get on all of their radars is to be implemented as an official course. Mexican American Studies deserves to be an option at all 1,200 Texas School Districts. Tell the SBOE to implement it now.
Myth 5. The TX SBOE is low on funding. It can’t incur the costs of implementing Mexican American Studies as a course.
Truth - MAS Texas has created a list of experts who will be willing to work for free on the committee. Tell us how much Algebra II cost to implement and we’ll match that for Mexican American Studies.
Myth 6. 10 of the TX State Board of Education representatives are Republican. They might be following the view expressed on page 11 of the 2012 Texas GOP Platform which says the following: “American Identity Patriotism and Loyalty– We believe the current teaching of a multicultural curriculum is divisive. We favor strengthening our common American identity and loyalty instead of political correctness that nurtures alienation among racial and ethnic groups. “
Truth - Mexican American History is American History. The book HECHO EN TEJAS: an anthology of Texas Mexican writers includes the stories of Gus Garcia and Dr. Hector Garcia, both champions of civil rights who were also veterans. Our History does not cause divisiveness-oppressing us causes divisiveness. The TX SBOE must stop their oppressive stance and must implement Mexican American Studies as a legitimate course option.
Myth 7. The TX SBOE believes there’s not a need for Mexican American Studies to be implemented as a course.
Truth - There are 2 glaring examples why Texas needs Mexican American Studies:
(A) A principal at Hempstead Middle School went over the loud speaker in December of last year and banned Spanish at the school. She needed to take Mexican American Studies to know that is what used to happen to our elders in Texas schools. They would be punished for speaking Spanish. It took a young straight A student and her mom to stand up to that. That principal is currently on paid administrative leave.
(B) In November of last year, the Young Conservative of Texas at the University of Texas organized the “Catch an Illegal Immigrant” Game. One minor irony was that the leader of the group was Latino.
More of these cultural conflicts will occur if we don’t prepare Texans for a multicultural, multimedia world with MAS in the classrooms.
Myth 8. Mexican American Studies majors don’t get jobs.
Truth – When Tucson Unified School District implemented Mexican American Studies, the graduation rate for students who took the courses jumped to 93%. Not every student who studies MAS will major in MAS in 4 years. However, students, with the critical thinking skills attained through ethnic studies, are better prepared to pursue Master’s degrees, which makes them more prepared to become managers, CEO’s, and business owners. MAS is for students from all backgrounds.
Myth 9. TX SBOE Republican Representative Mercer has stated several times that a school can offer Spanish, French, even Russian courses if they wish.
Truth - Of 4.9 Million public and charter school students in the public school system, 51% are now Hispanic. The courses MAS revolves around: Mexican American Literature, Mexican History, Mexican American Art and so forth, are all conducted in English. It is time for the TX SBOE to prepare our youth for a multicultural, multimedia world. They must start by voting to implement Mexican American Studies Courses Friday, January 31.
Myth 10. The System is an open book.
Truth- The system is a Texas verbal two-step. It is hard to find out when meetings are, what is on the agenda, what time your issue will come up, what exact policies are being followed. Either the SBOE is not organized at all and making this up as they go along, or they really don’t want us to know what is going on.
When I was in second grade, I was already translating English into Spanish for my parents. Word games don’t work on me. Let’s cut to the chase. Although the term Latino is not officially defined, Mexican Americans are a protected class. Tejano icon Gus Garcia went to the Supreme Court to achieve that. Everyone would know that if Mexican American Courses were implemented as an option for all Texas schools. Is that what we need to resort to, suing Texas SBOE to demand culturally and historically relevant courses, as prescribed by the current Texas Education Knowledge and Skills standards (TEKS)? We will have our answer on January 31, 2014.This is what is happening in Arizona. High school students are among the plaintiffs suing the state of Arizona to overturn the racist law HB2281 which was used to prohibit Mexican American studies. That case goes before the 9th District Court of appeals in San Francisco this fall.
We are always learning from the courage and tenacity of our brothers and sisters in Arizona. We organized the Librotraficante Caravan to smuggle the books banned by HB2281 books back into Tucson. We will support our Arizona familia this fall, and we will be meeting with their legal team as well.
On Friday, January 31, the Texas State Board of Education can vote to implement Mexican American Studies and ensure that Texas is the leader in preparing students to thrive in a multicultural, multimedia era. Or The Texas State Board of Education can choose to ignore our history and culture and the needs of 51% of our students and take the next step toward turning Texas into Aparthied Arizona.
I am very proud to know that History will show we did not sit by and idly let that happen.
Long live Tejas.
Who is your TX SBOE rep? Find out here.
What is your TX SBOE reps phone number? Find out here.
by Amanda Hart