When the Texas Education Agency released a sample of Mexican American Heritage – a textbook intended for students in the state’s public school system – educators and community members widely lambasted it. Written by Jaime Riddle and Valarie Angle, people accused the authors of not being knowledgeable in Mexican-American history and of writing an anti-Latino book filled with inaccuracies. Following the public outrage, Texans were welcomed to submit complaints about the book until September. But a vote in November would decide whether or not the book would form part of the recommended instructional materials for the 2017-2018 school year, according to CBS News.
While the decision isn’t until Friday, the Texas’ State Board of Education (SBOE) unanimously voted to reject the book in a preliminary vote. Though the publisher can still publish the book, it won’t have the SBOE’s backing. “The unanimous vote by the board today is an amazing victory for everyone who showed how inaccurate the book was,” said University of Texas at Austin professor Emilio Zamora, according to The Texas Tribune.
Zamora and a committee submitted 140 corrections for the textbook, and it probably didn’t take long to come across questionable excerpts. The book opens with a highly romanticized retelling of Spanish colonization. But one line that particularly earned the ire of scholars describes the Chicano movement as anti-American. “Chicanos, on the other hand, adopted a revolutionary narrative that opposed Western civilization and wanted to destroy this society,” according to page 415 and 416.
Zamora’s now working with a co-author to bring the students of Texas a book about Mexican-American history. He’s currently negotiating contracts with a publisher, but is unsure if he’ll meet the deadline for the 2018 bid.
Getting Mexican-American studies into Texas’ public schools has been an uphill battle. In April 2014, the SBOE outright rejected offering a statewide Mexican-American studies elective. Those opposed claimed it promoted reverse racism and welcomed “leftist ideology” into schools, according to the Associated Press. In the end, the SBOE decided in an 11-3 vote to ask publishers to submit textbook on Mexican-American, African-American, Native American, and Asian-American studies. School districts could then decide whether or not they’d offer the course.