SAN ANTONIO -- A proposed Mexican American studies textbook is being condemned by a committee evaluating it for use in Texas schools.
The report, commissioned by the State Board of Education, refers to a slew of factual inaccuracies and racist claims, referring to the book as a “polemic attempting to masquerade as a textbook.”
The book, entitled Mexican American Heritage, has been stirring controversy since it was initially proposed as part of a curriculum on the subject. It’s the only proposal that was submitted to the Board of Education.
The book includes passages that appear to disparage Mexicans and Mexican-Americans. One example states:
“Mexican laborers were not reared to put in a full day’s work so vigorously. There was a cultural attitude of “mañana” or tomorrow.”
Another passage discusses Chicano culture as being detrimental to American society, saying:
“Chicanos…adopted a revolutionary narrative that opposed Western civilization and wanted to destroy this society.”
Dr. Rogelio Saenz, the Dean at the UTSA College of Public Policy and one of the authors of the report condemning the book, said that the inaccuracies are too many for the book to be corrected. He added that the authors lack experience on the subject.
“This is a very dangerous book, and totally inadequate,” Dr. Saenz said. “You have people that are pretty much amateurs writing on the Latino experience.”
Their report found 141 errors, about one every three pages.
But Cynthia Dunbar, the CEO of its publisher, Momentum Instruction, and a former member of the Texas Board of Education, argues that those factual concerns have been addressed in recent revisions.
She also said that the book was written not to slander Mexican culture, but to highlight the challenges Mexicans have faced in earning acceptance in American society.
"They actually twisted and turned and said the book is teaching that Mexicans are lazy, which is emphatically untrue,” Dunbar said. “There is no goal or agenda with that."
Representative Diego Bernal, an outspoken critic of the book, said that some of the claims are so obvious that they cannot be justified, and worries that the book could cause harm if adopted.
“My real concern is not my own sense of being offended or the fact they’re talking about me and my parents and my family, but that they’re trying to get this information to our children,” Bernal said.
The report will be presented to the State Board of Education next Tuesday before it gets a vote in November.
Dr. Saenz said that once he and his colleagues present their feedback, he doubts it will be adopted.
“It’s sad, in many respects that it has come down to this,” Dr. Saenz said.
The full report, commissioned by the State Board of Education, can be found here.
(© 2016 KENS)