Education board considers new social studies textbook
AUSTIN — Less than a year after the Texas State Board of Education rejected a Mexican American studies textbook that critics argued was riddled with racism and errors, the board is considering a new text.
The new one was pitched by Tony Diaz, the director of intercultural initiatives at Lone Star College-North Harris and activist who would smuggle banned Mexican American studies books into Arizona.
His book, “The Mexican American Studies Toolkit,” went before the SBOE at its quarterly meeting Wednesday and drew no controversy.
“I was kind of stunned,” said Ruben Cortez Jr., a Democratic board member from Browns ville and advocate for creating a statewide Mexican American studies course, an effort that’s stalled in recent years. “I thought some of my Republican friends were going to be concerned.”
Last year, about 100 people filled the the SBOE’s meeting room in Austin, most railing against “Mexican American Heritage,” a textbook brought by former conservative Republican board member Cynthia Dunbar that critics attacked for referring to Mexicans as “lazy” and said had about 140 factual errors.
Critics, which included history professors, called the text “offensive” and said it downplayed Mexican-Americans’ contributions to society. The board, which is made up largely of conservative members, rejected that book in November and asked for new submissions.
“The Mexican American Studies Toolkit” is the only Mexican American textbook submission, although the board also received a pitch for a Jewish studies textbook.
The board is expected to take a final vote in November to add those textbooks to the recommended high school social studies text book list, although teachers can use books not on the list.