Board rejects controversial Mexican-American Studies textbook

Dozens rallied against a controversial Mexican-American studies textbook submitted to the SBOE
Dozens rallied against a controversial Mexican-American studies textbook submitted to the SBOE. (KXAN Photo)

AUSTIN (NEXSTAR) — The Texas State Board of Education rejected a controversial new textbook about Mexican-American history during a preliminary vote Wednesday morning.

The book, titled “Mexican-American Heritage”, has stirred up a lot of controversy after it was released in May. Critics of the book say it is racist and promotes inaccurate stereotypes.

“The facts are, the book is flawed and it’s flawed for everyone,” Texas Senator Jose Menendez, D-San Antonio said. “I don’t want anyone learning incorrect history about Mexican-American heritage. I don’t want my children learning it. I don’t want anyone else’s children learning it.”

This is the second time the board is considering the proposed textbook. A committee of educators charged with reviewing the book in September identified 141 factual errors.

The book’s author was asked to update the text accordingly. This week the committee says the updated copy now reveals more than 400 factual errors.

“Whatever books get approved by Texas gets sold to many many other states around the country,” Ruben Cortez Jr., a member of the State Board of Education said. “This doesn’t only become a Texas issue, this becomes a national issue if this book gets approved.”

Of the 37 people who testified before the board of Tuesday, 35 were against the proposed textbook and several people blamed the book’s publisher Cynthia Dunbar, a former member of the state board.

“Mrs. Dunbar, your vote, your book will be voted down,” Marisa Perez, a member of the State Board of Education said. “The disgraceful rhetoric that you shared and that you’ve tried to get into our classrooms will very publicly be rejected.”

Dunbar also took the stand on Tuesday to defend her textbook.

“A lot of this testimony isn’t even accurate. It is emotionally charged, and of course it raises a lot of funds for political action groups,” Dunbar said. “What I really just want is for the board to be reminded of the process that they adopted, that they put in place, and to remove any confusion or basically any inappropriate ideas that we had an agenda to present a racially biased or offensive textbook when that was absolutely never a goal.”

Dunbar says she will pursue legal action against the board if members do not approve the textbook during the final vote on Friday.

“The only basis they could pull the textbook would be because they feel the public has a certain response to it, which is technically statutorily not within their purview,” Dunbar said. “It would be an unconstitutional viewpoint discrimination and because it’s a government entity, the board would be subject to legal recourse.”

Dunbar said the board is required to pass the current textbook because it meets all state requirements.

The board will meet again on Friday for the final vote.

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