Texas education officials officially OK Mexican-American studies course
AUSTIN — After four years of battles over ethnic studies textbooks and courses in a state with a booming Latino population, state education officials gave final approval to adopt a Mexican-American studies course that can be taught statewide.
Although the State Board of Education OK’d the course with no discussion at its board meeting Friday in Austin, the issue of teaching Texas students about the influence of Mexican-Americans has dominated much of the board’s discussion for more than four years.
The board has gone to blows over adopting a textbook that critics describe as offensive for describing Mexican-Americans as lazy and omitting or downplaying contributions of Mexican-Americans. Later, the board tentatively agreed to create the framework for a Mexican-American studies course — although teachers could already teach such a class — but fought over the name of it after conservative board members wanted to change the name of the course to “Ethnic Studies: An Overview of Americans of Mexican Descent.” The final title is “Ethnic Studies: Mexican American Studies.”
Standards for the high school social studies elective course will go into effect in the 2019 school year.
The board also gave initial approval to a slate of changes to the social studies curricula, including reinserting references to the “heroism” of the defenders of the Alamo and ensuring Moses remains in the section on influences of America’s founding. Sections tentatively removed include the mandatory teaching of Helen Keller in the section on citizenship and “holding public officials to their word” in a civics section.