HOUSTON – More than 100 Houstonians traveled Austin to protest against a textbook they call racist.
The textbook, “Mexican American Heritage,” could make its way to Texas classrooms by next year unless the Texas Board of Education decides otherwise.
On Tuesday, the Texas Board of Education held public hearings to address the controversy. Tony Diaz, leader of the Librotraficantes, helped organize the protest.
“[It’s] One of the most racist texts that's ever been considered for publication in Texas schools,” said Diaz.
Diaz is among many including educators and 20 different groups, asking the board not to allow this book into the classroom calling it “demeaning” and “insulting,” full of factual errors and offensive stereotypes.
“This textbook will teach a generation how to discriminate,” Diaz said. “I don't want our youth being told that Mexican Americans are violent, that Mexicans are lazy or that nothing important has ever come to the US from south of the border.”
Lawrence Allen Jr., a state board of education member and longtime educator from the Houston area, says the Texas Education Agency first looks at any potential textbook to make sure it lines up with the state’s curriculum requirements. Allen says all books must cover at least 50 percent of those requirements, and that in this case, “Mexican American Heritage” covers 100 percent. Once that happens, Allen says the textbook then comes before the state board, whose members then look for factual errors.
“Tex. State Board of Education keeps mentioning that there was only one submission,” explained Diaz, “well we are going to have 100 examples of better books that could have been considered.”
If the board finds the textbook is not factually correct, the publisher will have the chance to change it before a final vote in November.
The Houston Independent School District is one of only eight districts statewide to offer a Mexican-American studies elective course, which is available to students at five high schools. HISD spokesperson Lila Hollin says the district currently has no plans to adopt the controversial textbook.
To see samples of the proposed textbook, click here.