More than 90 speakers protest 'racist' textbook before State Board of Education

Ahead of Tuesday's hearing before the State Board of Education, protesters rallied against a textbook called 'Mexican American Heritage' written to support a new elective course for high schools.

But a great many who have read it claim it's light on facts and heavy on racism...including two members of the board.

"There are many Americans in Texas who are deeply offended that we even have to deal with a textbook such as this in 2016 when we've come so far," said SBE secretary Ruben Cortez Jr.

"We are not radicals.  We are simply educated individuals who want to see true, smart, responsible, respectful education in our classrooms," said board member Marisa B. Perez.

UT History Professor Emilio Zamora is part of a group that reviewed the book which he says has plenty of errors.

"Some of the more blatant ones, they argue that the people that took to the streets and protested in the 1980's were for the most part, cultural and political threats to American society.  And I think that's a major stretch," he said.

The textbook is produced by a company called "Momentum Instruction." Conservative Cynthia Dunbar, a former board member has connections to it.  This summer she told FOX 7 "There was no intent, no goal, to paint Mexican Americans in a negative light." She called the many criticisms "subjective."

Tuesday's hearing was packed.  An overflow room had to be set up.  Senator Jose Rodriguez was the first to address the board.

"The textbook promotes the myth that Mexican Americans are anti-American.  Even claiming that Chicano's have quote 'opposed Western civilization' unquote and want to quote 'destroy this society,'" Rodriguez said.

Rodriguez referred to a South Texas student walkout in the '60s.

"That walkout by the students was because there were no Chicana Mexican American cheerleaders in the athletic teams.  That's why those students walked out.  They weren't walking out because they wanted to destroy civilization," Rodriguez said.

Many of the board members pointed out: Mexican American Heritage was the only textbook that was submitted by a publisher for the course.

"I was shocked.  And this board was shocked because we get usually, sometimes hundreds of submissions...and when the submissions went out public, we had experts for 2 years who came and testified.  And one book came back.  And it was an out of state book," said board member Ken Mercer.

Zamora is hoping the board will reject the book and then call for proposals again.

"There is an interest.  People are instituting courses of Mexican American studies...but there is no official encouragement on the part of the board which is necessary to create a market to encourage publishers to write books," Zamora said.

The board will vote on the textbook in November.

 

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