Latino Activists Want Texas Schools To Address ‘Institutionalized Racism’

huffpo latinoBy Roque Planas, Huffington Post Latino Voices

Latino activists in Texas are demanding a public school curriculum that reflects the student body, calling on the State Board of Education to offer high schoolers courses in Mexican-American Studies.

At a board meeting Wednesday, activists will ask for Mexican-American history and literature classes to be added to the list of high school courses that can be taken for college credit, as well as to the list of “endorsed” special topics in the arts and humanities.

Despite the fact that more than half of the nearly 5 million students in Texas public schools are Latino, Mexican-American Studies are not currently in the state’s planned curriculum. Librotraficante, a group founded to protest the Arizona legislature’s dismantling of a controversial Mexican-American Studies curriculum in Tucson, says the Republican-majority Texas board could help institutionalize the field by including it.

“We’re not asking for any laws to be changed,” Tony Diaz told The Huffington Post. “Mexican-American Studies is an accepted field of study.”

The idea has resonated with historian Emilio Zamora, a professor at the University of Texas at Austin.

“I think it’s high time for our public schools to demonstrate greater interest in the history and culture of Mexican-Americans, primarily because it makes pedagogical sense,” Zamora told HuffPost. “It’s going to encourage the kids and it’s going to provide a very creative perspective to study U.S. history.”

But the chair of the State Board of Education, Barbara Cargill (R), says supporters of Mexican-American Studies should pursue the idea through local districts, rather than asking the state to mandate the development of new courses.

“It takes a long, long time to develop a course,” Cargill said. “In the future, it could be a consideration, but just boom, developing a course like that by the time we’re going to vote in January, is not possible.”

Some high schools already partner with community colleges to offer Mexican-American Studies. Other programs are in development.

Tony Villanueva, the chair of Behavioral Sciences …

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This article was originally published in Huffington Post Latino Voices.

[Photo tonydiaz.net]

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