LIFESTYLE

Textbook about Mexican-American heritage causes uproar in Texas

A textbook proposed to help teach the cultural history of Mexican-Americans in Texas public schools has come under fire by some activists who are labeling it as "racist" and misinformed.

The Houston Chronicle reported Monday that the book describes Mexican-Americans as people who "adopted a revolutionary narrative that opposed Western civilization and wanted to destroy this society."

Titled "Mexican-American Heritage," is among the first batch of textbooks to be included as possible reading material for Texas students following an outcry last year in which activists demanded that the subject be included in high school curriculums across the state.

In Texas, more than half the students in public primary and secondary schools are Latino, and most of them are Mexican-American, according to the Chronicle.

The book, which has yet to be approved by the State Board of Education, also links Mexican-Americans to undocumented migrants and states that illegal immigration has "caused a number of economic and security problems in the United States."

"Poverty, drugs, crime, non-assimilation and exploitation are among some of these problems,” the book reads. “Studies have shown that the Mexican-American community suffers from a significant gap in education levels, employment, wages, housing and other issues relating to poverty that persist through the second, third and fourth generations."

The Texas Education Agency told the Chronicle that it followed “standard procedure” when asking for materials to be submitted for the 2017-18 school year.

"The proclamations, once approved by the State Board of Education in a public meeting, are posted on the Texas Education Agency website and sent out on various public email listserves which are open to anyone to sign up," DeEtta Culbertson, a communications specialist with the agency, told the Chronicle. "All of the discussions and approvals are done at public meetings."

But Hispanics, who pushed for Mexican-American studies to be part of the curriculum, are crying foul.

“Instead of a text that is respectful of the Mexican-American history, we have a book poorly written, racist and prepared by non-experts," Tony Diaz, director of Intercultural Initiatives at Lone Star College–North Harris told the Chronicle.

"Paradoxically, we pressed for the board to include texts on Mexican-American studies, and we achieved it, but not in the way we were expecting," he said.

Texans have until September to submit comments on proposed instructional materials.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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