‘Racist’ Mexican-American studies textbook up for debate

Education leaders discuss controversial Mexican American heritage textbook (KXAN Photo/ Todd Bailey)
Education leaders discuss controversial Mexican American heritage textbook (KXAN Photo/ Todd Bailey)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — The controversial textbook on Mexican-American Heritage studies, which is being considered by the State Board, is going before another public hearing on Tuesday.

A final decision on whether the state will accept it is on Friday. However, the board may issue a new call for textbooks depending on the outcome of the hearing.

The textbook is for a high school elective class, but hundreds of people have come out against the book. An independent review of the book found more than 140 factual errors and offensive stereotypes. Many believe the State Board of Education will most likely agree with opponents of the textbook when they vote on Friday.

Protesters rally to keep the controversial Mexican-American Heritage textbook out of Texas classrooms (KXAN Photo/ Tom Rapp)
Protesters rally to keep the controversial Mexican-American Heritage textbook out of Texas classrooms (KXAN Photo/ Tom Rapp)

Before the public hearing where an estimated 10 people have signed up to speak, board members are expected to call for next year’s batch of textbooks. Officials told KXAN they will likely consider calling for a new textbook on Mexican-American studies.

When board members first called for the current round of textbooks, this one book was the only one submitted by a publisher. So far several board members have said it’s low quality, poorly written, and has inflammatory language.

University of Texas Professor of History, Emilio Zamora reviewed the book and says there are some serious flaws.

“They depict the Mexican-American community in stereotypical terms, as lazy, as threats to American society. It’s not only disturbing for me as a historian but I find it very offensive that they should be speaking so carelessly,” Zamora said.

Regardless of what the board passes it is up to the district to decide whether they want to use it or not. The idea behind allowing the board to make decisions on textbooks is because they are able to put the books through a vetting process, which is something smaller districts don’t have the resources to do.

This process started last year when some educators and Latino groups called on the state to add a class focused on Hispanic culture. On Monday, the CEO of the publishing company, Momentum Instruction, told the University of Houston, that it addressed concerns from historians and activists.

Public comments will happen after the lunch hour and the board is expected to cast their final vote Friday around 10 a.m.

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