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Republican SBOE Member Asks if Non-Mexican Americans Will Be Included in Mexican-American Studies

by: Katherine Haenschen

Wed Apr 09, 2014 at 04:00 PM CDT

It looks like Republicans' Hispanic outreach efforts have hit another bump in the road.

Republican SBOE Member Ken Mercer asked during a hearing on Mexican-American Studies if Cuban-Americans Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz would be included in the curriculum.

The debate centered on the potential creation of a Mexican American studies course that could be offered as an elective to the entire state. The SBOE would need to develop and approve the new course's curriculum.

Hispanic students are the largest ethnic group in Texas public school systems. The overwhelming majority are of Mexican descent. It should be common sense that Texas public school students should be able to learn about leaders who share their heritage. After all, it seems to be working out just fine for the white kids.

The fact that Ken Mercer cannot distinguish between Cuban Americans and Mexican Americans suggests that this coursework is sorely needed.

Meanwhile, the Senate Hispanic Caucus has signed a letter in support of adding Mexican-American studies.

Read their release below the jump.

Senator José Rodríguez, chair of the Senate Hispanic Caucus, sent the following press release about the letter:

Senate Hispanic Caucus sends letter of support for Mexican-American Studies to the SBOE
Let students see their reflection in heroes of the past

AUSTIN - Members of the Senate Hispanic Caucus (SHC) have sent a letter to the State Board of Education (SBOE) urging the SBOE to add an elective Mexican-American Studies course to the official state curriculum.

The SBOE will consider this proposal at its meeting, which begins today (Tuesday, April 8, 2014) and runs through Friday (April 11, 2014).

"Currently, Mexican-American Studies can be taught in Texas public high schools. However, each school district must create its own curriculum, which is often too burdensome for teachers and administrators whose resources are already stretched thin," the letter states. "The SBOE has the ability to create and standardize new curriculum standards for Mexican-American Studies. This would create a model that school districts would be able to use to help inspire the next generation of Texans-a step that some districts, such as the El Paso and Ysleta ISDs, are taking on their own."

Senator José Rodríguez, Chairman of the Senate Hispanic Caucus, recently co-authored an op-ed piece on the issue with Senator Sylvia R. Garcia, who is Vice Chair of the SHC.

"Young men and women are more likely to pursue opportunity when they see themselves not only in their leaders, but also in society as a whole," they wrote. "For students in Texas, lessons on Tejano leaders and the Chicano movement have been lacking for many years."

In the piece, published in various newspapers statewide, they quoted from 2011 report from the National Education Association: "As students of color proceed through the school system, research finds that the overwhelming dominance of Euro-American perspectives leads many such students to disengage from academic learning. ... There is considerable research evidence that well-designed and well-taught ethnic studies curricula have positive academic and social outcomes for students."


José Rodríguez represents Texas Senate District 29, which includes the counties of El Paso, Hudspeth, Culberson, Jeff Davis, and Presidio. He represents both urban and rural constituencies, and more than 350 miles of the Texas-Mexico border. Senator Rodríguez currently serves as the Chairman of the Senate Hispanic Caucus, Vice Chairman of the Senate Jurisprudence Committee, and a member of the Senate Committees on Criminal Justice, Veteran Affairs and Military Installations, and Government Organization.

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