Texas Textbook Causes Controversy Over Errors, Stereotypes

(Photo: Pixabay, Creative Commons)

(Photo: Pixabay, Creative Commons)

A group of Texas historians and teachers are calling a textbook focusing on Mexican-American heritage "blatantly racist" and full of errors as they argue that it should not be allowed to be used in schools.

During a news conference in South Texas, the group said that the textbook in question, "Mexican American Heritage," perpetuates the stereotype of Mexicans being inferior through the use of authors who have little expertise on the topic. The group presented a 54-page report on their findings.

Published by former State Board of Education member Cynthia Dunbar, the book is being considered for use in classrooms across the state. A public hearing on the book is set to occur next week in Austin, writes Eva-Marie Ayala for The Dallas Morning News.

The group is calling the book "a political Trojan Horse," which they believe is being pushed by conservative Dunbar. The book contains a total of 141 passages with errors as a result of factual misinformation, misinterpretations, or omissions. The teachers and historians add that the book can be considered to be anti-Latino.

"This textbook is a complete disaster and should not even be considered a textbook but rather a political manifesto aimed at distorting the perceptions of our most valuable resources — our children," said Ruben Cortez, a current member of the state board who convened the group of high school and college teachers and historians to review the book.

However, Dunbar, who now runs the textbook company Momentum Instruction based out of Virginia, insists there is no hidden agenda within the book. She added that she had previously touched base with critics to help identify any factual errors within the text, but was told that they did not want to give her that information until the news conference was held, writes Michael Barajas for The San Antonio Current.

"We have no agenda other than trying to make sure that book presents the best material for the students," said Dunbar, who said she was not sure if it was the same people who released Tuesday's report. "I'm not sure really now what their agenda is because they were more concerned with the press conference than they were with errors."

Dunbar went on to say that a number of voluntary edits had been made by the company to reword passages or add missing information, including additional information on Mexican-American women. She added that the only factual flaw she is aware of is a passage that states English is the primary language used in the United States.

Despite this editing, the group insists that the book is still too condescending and flawed to use in classrooms. They cited a section discussing how business owners in Mexico did not want to hire locals because they were considered to be lazy. "Mexican laborers were not reared to put in a full day's work so vigorously," it reads. "There was a cultural attitude of ‘mañana' or tomorrow."

The textbook is the first to be reviewed by the state for use in public schools. If the state board approves the book, it would be listed as an option for use in classrooms, but not a requirement.

09 9, 2016
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