Proposed Mexican-American studies textbook fails to live up to standards of Texas education

José Menéndez

Guest op-ed by José Menéndez, Texas State Senator, District 26

When the Texas State Board of Education (SBOE)  voted to add Mexican-American studies to Texas curricula as an official course two years ago, it was already long overdue. More than half of Texas public school students are Hispanic, and the state’s long history with Mexico has shaped our distinct culture and rich heritage immensely. However, the textbook currently being vetted by the SBOE, Mexican-American Heritage, does not live up to that important history nor meet the high standards of the Texas education system. If a student turned in this textbook as a research paper, it would be graded an F.

The proposed textbook contains glaring and harmful factual errors about the history of Mexican-Americans. It has no place being taught in Texas schools. Among its many mistakes, the book states on page 414:

“Chicanos, on the other hand, adopted a revolutionary narrative that opposed Western civilization and wanted to destroy this society.”

It also falsely states on page 454:

“Due to the fact that illegal immigrants fear deportation and involvement with legal  authorities, crime and exploitation can circulate unabated in their neighborhoods. Those who have hostile views towards American government and culture may also gain strongholds in immigrant communities because of the difficult challenges they face. This may express itself in various unhealthy ways.”

It is simply unacceptable to allow these untrue statements and distortions of history to be presented to our children as fact. Like millions of Texans, I am a proud Mexican-American. My mother immigrated from Mexico as a nurse to find a better life. This textbook about our shared history is as offensive as it is inaccurate. Our children deserve better.

Textbooks are the cornerstones of our education system. Sadly, this poorly written book undermines that system and its core purpose, putting our students’ educations at risk. Textbooks are trusted as credible sources of information for both teachers and students. Unfortunately, the authors of this book did not bother to ensure the material was correct or historically accurate. Though we’ve already found many errors, there are likely many more examples scattered throughout the book. We would expect more effort from our students, so let’s hold the writers of this book accountable and not permit fiction to be taught under the guise of history in our classrooms.