Mayor Turner asks Texas education board to reject textbook

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Houston mayor Sylvester Turner has taken a stance on a controversial textbook being proposed for Mexica-American studies in Texas public schools.

He called the proposed textbook "prejudicial" and doesn't want it anywhere near a classroom.

Activists are gearing up for the public hearing next week on whether this textbook should be allowed in public schools around Texas.

The book in question is titled “Mexican American Heritage.”

Those against the book say the text makes false blanket statements about an entire culture.

“On the racist side, the book says that Chicanos are violent; they want to overthrow western civilization,” said Tony Diaz, an activist and director of Librotraficante.

The mayor released a statement on Tuesday that reads:

In a letter to the Texas State Board of Education, Mayor Sylvester Turner expresses strong opposition to the adoption of the Momentum Instruction, LLC's "Mexican American Heritage" textbook currently under consideration for the 2017 school year.

"I have read parts of the proposed textbook as well as reviews from experts in history and Mexican-American studies.  In short, I find this textbook to be offensive," said Mayor Turner.  "The purpose of instructional material is not to undermine our educational system, to push an ideological agenda or to disseminate inaccuracies, stereotypes and errors about our collective history."

The mayor's opposition is based on his own reading of parts of the textbook as well as reviews by experts in history and Mexican-American studies who say the book is filled with errors.  The following is an excerpt from page 248: "Industrialists were very driven, competitive men who were always on the clock and continually concerned about efficiency. They were used to their workers putting in a full day's work, quietly and obediently, and respecting rules, authority, and property. In contrast, Mexican laborers were not reared to put in a full day's work so vigorously. There was a cultural attitude of 'mañana,' or 'tomorrow,' when it came to high-gear production."

"It is unbelievable that such a hateful stereotype appears in a textbook for Texas students. Politicized, prejudicial, erroneous textbooks must not be used as instructional materials for students," said Turner.  "It is important for us to understand that Mexican-American culture is a vital and vibrant part of the United States' rich and diverse culture and history."

Turner is urging adoption of an alternative textbook that features and celebrates the cultural and historical contributions Mexican-Americans and Hispanics have made to the building and collective identity of the United States.

"We have the unique opportunity to develop a world-class textbook on Mexican-American studies created by academic and professional experts. Reject this purported textbook, and offer one that is scholarly, historical and accurate to educate all students about our nation's rich history," said the mayor.

“Just think about that. Who in their right mind would publish a book about Mexican-American heritage without consulting a single Mexican-American, let alone any experts in Mexican-American history or culture?” said Diaz.

Fox 26 News called the Texas Education Agency, and officials say it's important to remember that this is only a proposed book and that the public can certainly weigh in on it.

One official did mention that most of the board is also concerned with the submission of the textbook.

“This book has certainly caught the attention of many people. A number people have expressed concern about it. I know the board is taking that very seriously and is going to look at that very closely,” said Debbie Ratcliffe with the Texas Education Agency.

Activists said they want an alternative textbook that celebrates the historical contributions of Mexican-Americans.

The Texas State Board of Education will vote on whether to adopt the textbook this coming November.