TEXAS REPUBLICANS ARE SEEKING TO EXCLUDE MEXICAN AMERICAN HISTORY
Chicano Student Organizations MASA and Somos MAS Are Seen Uniting for March at Cesar Chavez 2014 in San Antonio, Texas
SAN ANTONIO - While the rest of academia was taking a break this past summer, educators and Chicano activists in Texas were hard at work trying to keep Mexican American history from becoming lost history in Texas school. Since the Chicano Movement in the 1960s, Raza have been working feverishly to ensure that Mexican Americans are highlighted for their major contributions to this country’s successes - and not just briefly nor unjustifiably mentioned as a mere cause for its imagined short comings alone. The effort to shift the stigma that is often attached with being a Chicano in this country has been an ongoing battle for many academics and activists alike. In the realm of public schools, you'd think we're still living in the Jim Crow era thanks to rantings of some present day politicians.
Most recently, Texas is at the heart of this struggle regarding social studies textbooks for the pre K-12th grades in the state’s public education system. On April 10th of this year, the TSBOE (Texas State Board of Education) convened for a special session on what would be the beginning of a heated debate between the board and Chicano activists of the Lone Star State. The initial concern began as a lack of representation for the contributions of Mexican Americans in the construction of the United States. For decades, Social Studies, Texas, and U.S. history books have all failed to emphasize the experiences of Mexican Americans as a progressive interwoven element of U.S. culture. These textbooks have often also falsely portrayed the Mexican American community as an outsider to the mainstream of American society that has always sucked at the teat of democracy while never giving anything back.
HOUSTON AND SAN ANTONIO ORGANIZATIONS JOIN TO LOBBY IN AUSTIN
In February 2014, a San Antonio based organization calling itself Somos MAS (We are Mexican American Studies) and the Librotraficante Movement based out of Houston began organizing for this latest round of fighting with the TSBOE. It was a multi-faceted approach consisting of a letter writing campaign followed by a bombardment of emails and phone calls that were made all the way up untill the time of the session in April. While all that was taking place, an online petition created by Juan Tejeda of Somos MAS, was circulating the Internet which collected a vibrant 312 signatures, not as many as they’d hoped for but, still enough to convey their message; people want this change! In addition, Tony Diaz of the Librotraficante Movement was projecting the concerns of many community members through social media and other media outlets at his disposal. Behind the scenes were student activist from Texas higher education establishments such as MASA (Mexican American Student Association) at Northwest Vista Community College in San Antonio, MASC (Mexican American Studies Club) from UT Pan American in Edinburg, and MASO (Mexican American Student Organization) from University of Texas at San Antonio. These young activists took to the social media sites and began garnering support for their cause. The goal according to the online petition? “Develop a curriculum in Mexican American Studies for Texas high school students and ask Barbra Cargill to move this initiative from a ‘Discussion’ to an ‘Action Item’ at the next meeting on April 9.” This much was done.
Composition of the TSBOE - Chicano Activists from San Antonio and Houston Declare Need for Mexican American Studies
Barbra Cargill (R) is from The Woodlands and is the current Chair of the TSBOE appointed by Gov. Rick Perry (R) in July 2011 and, was re-appointed for two more years in February 2013; she will continue to serve as Chair until February 2015. Before her appointment to Chair, she’d served three terms on the board. The primarily Republican board is composed of state officials like: Martha M. Dominguez (D) of El Paso, Ruben Cortez Jr. (D) of Brownsville, Marisa B. Perez (D) of San Antonio, Lawrence A. Allen Jr. (D) of Fresno, Ken Mercer (R) of San Antonio, Donna Bahorich (R) of Houston, David Bradley (R) of Beaumont, Thomas Ratliff (R) of Mount Pleasant, Tom Maynard (R) of Florence, Patricia Hardy (R) of Fort Worth, Geraldine “Tincy” Miller (R) Dallas, Mavis B. Knight (D) of Dallas, Sue Melton0-Malone (R) Waco, and Marty Rowley (R) of Amarillo. That’s five registered Democrats and 10 registered Republicans.
Arguments from all ends of the spectrum were heard. Juan Tejeda of Somos MAS presented an unpopular belief in mainstream ideology stating, “Unfortunately, there is some institutionalized racism in our education system that needs to be addressed.” He went on to argue that, “Students are not seeing themselves reflected positively in textbooks... If schools are making you feel bad about who