Scholars dismiss controversial proposed Mexican-American studies textbook

A committee of scholars from the Rio Grande Valley and across Texas gathered at Paredes Elementary School in Brownsville Tuesday morning to report issues on a proposed Mexican-American studies textbook said to be filled with historical and cultural errors. (KGBT)

RIO GRANDE VALLEY, Texas (KBGT) - A committee of scholars from the Rio Grande Valley and across Texas gathered at Paredes Elementary School in Brownsville Tuesday morning to report issues on a proposed Mexican-American studies textbook said to be filled with historical and cultural errors. The group was convened by State Board of Education member Ruben Cortez.

“This book offers one thing: hate. Hate towards Mexican Americans,” said Cortez.

The textbook, called “Mexican American Heritage," published by Momentum Instruction, is being considered offensive by many.

“I am calling on my colleagues on the state board to reject the adoption of this textbook. Moreover, the board should immediately reopen the adoption process and ask publishers to submit textbooks for ethnic studies courses next year,” said Cortez.

The committee spent several months building a 54-page report on the proposed textbook, in which more than 141 passages containing errors were found.

"You go 20-30 pages and there’s omissions of information that should be included there. For instance, the textbook in no way talks about Spanish Texas. They talk about the California missions, but they don’t talk about Spanish Texas, because if you start talking about Spanish Texas, the conclusions that come out later is that Mexicans are lazy doesn’t fit,” said Dr. Trinidad Gonzales, history professor at South Texas College.

One of the passages reads:

Stereotypically, Mexicans were viewed as lazy compared to European or American workers. Industrialists were very driven, competitive men who were always on the clock and continually concerned about efficiency.

In another passage, Mexican Americans are linked to immigration.

“Illegal immigration has since caused a number of economic and security problems in the United States over which people are divided on how to solve. Poverty, non-assimilation, drugs, crime, and exploitation are among some of these problems,” the textbook stated.

Some Mexican-American students also found the proposed textbook offensive.

“I am a proud daughter and Mexican American and do not find it fair to have stereotypical statements of Mexican Americans being lazy in book that could be required to read,” said student Andrea Ballesteros.

In a statement to CBS 4 News, Cynthia Dunbar, a former State Board of Education member who is tied to the production of the book, said the publishing company cares about Mexican-American history being taught and that there is no hidden agenda.

According to the Texas Education Agency, a panel of educators and members of the public have been reviewing the textbook this summer. The textbook has been submitted by the publisher for review. The State Board of Education will vote on the textbook in November.

The public hearing before the committee of the full board will be held Tuesday, Sept. 13 at 11 a.m. at the Travis Building off Congress Avenue in Austin. The public can sign up to testify this Friday or Monday. Testimonies will be limited to two minutes per person. Those interested may register at tea.texas.gov or call 512-463-9007.

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