A proposed high school textbook in the state of Texas that addresses the topic of Mexican-American studies is coming under fire for containing a number of sections having nothing to do with Mexican-American history and including language that describes Mexicans as ‘lazy.’
A coalition of educators and Mexican-American advocates have recently come together in an effort to have the book, “Mexican American Heritage,” banned from classrooms in the state. The Texas State Board of Education plans to review the book this fall. While the more than 1,000 school districts in the state are not required to use board-sanctioned classroom materials, the majority do.
According to the Responsible Ethnic Studies Textbook Coalition, which includes Texas Latino Education Coalition, the Mexican American School Board Members Association, the Texas Freedom Network and the ACLU of Texas, argue that the textbook is “poorly researched and written” and contains “offensive cultural stereotypes.”
The coalition cited a specific passage within the proposed textbook that stereotyped Mexicans as being “lazy,” going on to say that the materials “reinforce that stereotype in a discussion of relations between workers and American industrialists in Mexico in the late 1800s,” writes Joe Heim for The Washington Post.
The group quoted from page 248 of the book to reinforce their argument.
“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.”
While the Texas State Board of Education will review the book and consider public comment in September, board member David Bradley said the book seemed acceptable. He went on to say that it was “amusing” that activists have pushed for their own textbook for a “course that nobody else wanted,” and now they do not like it. “I bet they want everyone to also get an A for just attending? The one thing we can’t fix in this world is unhappy people.”
Bradley went on to say that the state should be focusing more on the basics, such as reading, writing, and math, before concerning themselves with specialized courses, reports Will Weissert for ABC News.
“I’m Italian, Irish and French,” Bradley said. “And I feel like I’m being discriminated against when we only have an exclusive minority studies program in Texas.”
Written by Jaime Riddle and Valarie Angle, the textbook is published by Momentum Instruction, a Virginia-based company led by Cynthia Dunbar, who had previously called public education a “subtly deceptive tool of perversion” while serving on the Texas State Board of Education. The textbook includes topics that do not concern Mexican-American history, including issues that Dunbar supported while she was on the board.
With the majority of public school students in the state being Latino, advocates in the state have continuously pushed the State Board of Education to include textbooks that include issues experienced by Mexican-American students as well as minority groups in the state.