Monday, October 18, 2021

Texas board rejects Mexican-American textbook


The Texas State Board of Education voted last week not to list a controversial textbook about Mexican-American history, the Texas Tribune reports.

The vote came Wednesday, November 16, following testimony the previous day from at least 37 people, the vast majority of whom opposed adoption of the book.

Cynthia Dunbar, CEO of Momentum Instruction, the company behind the book Mexican American Heritage by Jaime Riddle and Valarie Angle, was one of only two people who testified in favor of adoption by the board. The other 35 people who testified all opposed adoption.

Individual school districts may still decide to purchase the book, because they’re allowed to act independently, but the state board will not list the book as part of its state-approved social studies curriculum, following Wednesday’s 14-0 vote. New bids from publishers will be accepted for textbooks to consider for adoption in 2018.

Voxitatis reported about this story in September, noting that Governor Greg Abbott, Republican of Texas, had no comment about the book, citing a report in the Houston Chronicle. Even then, the book was widely criticized.

Ms Dunbar formerly served on the state board, and her views were considered to be right-wing at the time. FOX News cited a report by a group of educators, convened by current state board member Ruben Cortez, who concluded the book “promotes the stereotype that Mexicans are inferior, contains 141 factual errors, and relies on authors who have no expertise in Mexican-American studies.”

Here’s a sample of what these teachers noticed:

Stereotypically, Mexicans were viewed as lazy compared to European or American workers. 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. It was also traditional to skip work on Mondays, and drinking on the job could be a problem. [from Page 248]

Ms Dunbar testified that Momentum had agreed to fix some of the “minor” errors in the book, but that seemed to have little influence on board members’ opinions about it.

“This racially offensive textbook is a glimpse into her distorted reality of what the Hispanic culture represents to her,” Mr Cortez told the Austin American-Statesman, referring to Ms Dunbar. “Her actions are morally reprehensible, and we cannot allow it to enter into our Texas public schools.”

Paul Katula
Paul Katula is the executive editor of the Voxitatis Research Foundation, which publishes this blog. For more information, see the About page.

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