A controversial textbook for a state approved course on Mexican-American heritage was rejected Friday by members of the state school board. The vote was praised by social advocacy and academic groups who claim the textbook promoted racial stereotypes
The vote was unanimous and the outcome not a surprise.
Although for board member Ruben Cortez it was certainly a relief.
"Oh god you have no idea, you have no idea, as soon as I saw that 15 - 0 vote I mean I got chills it’s was remarkable because it’s been a long drawn out battle,” said Cortez.
The textbook for Mexican-American heritage studies was the only one to be submitted after the school board issued a request for one last year. It immediately triggered several protest rallies condemned as racially insensitive and inaccurate.
"This book tells the wrong story about Texans, it will put us against each other, so that book has got to go,” said Tony Diaz a social advocate from Houston.
The textbook was produced by a publishing company run by former state school board member Cynthia Dunbar. She wasn't at the meeting for the Friday vote - but earlier in the week she disputed the accusations against her textbook.
"The book is not racists there is no intention to go after an entire people or group we just simply want to have a textbook that can be used that's fully vetted that can teach special topics and social studies,” said Dunbar during the hearing Tuesday.
It became clear on Tuesday Dunbar’s textbook would most likely be rejected when board members issued a new call for ethnic studies curriculum. Now the pressure is on those who opposed it to start putting together their own textbook. U-T professor Emilio Zamora - admits he failed to respond to the first request for course work. Zamora indicated he would not let that history repeat itself.
"I’m not afraid to put my book on the table and present it to the peer review process that this board requires."
Zamora also promised he'll challenge his academic colleagues - at a conference in February to start working on their own textbook proposals. "We need to do that, we need to step up, not to say we don’t like this we need to say what we prefer.”
There's not much time - the new textbook assignment is due later next year. Dunbar told FOX7 if her textbook was rejected - she would probably resubmit another draft as part of the new call.
The material the school board is asking for includes curriculum for Asian, African and Native American studies.
They are not mandatory class, but are high school electives.