Activists Demand Mexican-American Studies Courses be Offered in Texas High Schools
The second-largest group populating the state of Texas are Hispanics and Latino Americans, only bested by non-Hispanic European Americans. Nonetheless, Latinos continue to find difficulties when it comes to access to the workforce or education throughout the state. Latino activists are presently demanding that public school curriculum reflect the Latino-heavy student body, and they are asking that the State Board of Education offer courses that resonate with Latino students, such as courses in Mexican-American studies.
The Mexican-American history and literature classes would be taken as college courses, and would offer information that is absent from American classrooms. Instead, teens are continuously handed subjects and material that's oversaturated with Anglo history.
Five million students attend public school in Texas, and more than half of those minors attending school are Latino; which is exactly why groups such as Librotraficante, who protested the dismantling of Mexican-American Studies programs in Arizona, need to exist. Librotraficante act as a voice of reason, and has stated that Republican-majority Texas board has perpetrated institutionalized racism by failing to make these essential ethnic studies courses available to students.
"We're not asking for any laws to be changed," Mexican-American leader and Libratraficante member Tony Diaz told Huffington Post. "Mexican-American Studies is an accepted field of study."
Latin American history, culture, and art offered alongside Anglo history, culture and art would guarantee comparative conversations at earlier stages; provide competitive and creativity thought, and it would grow the desire to preserve Latin American culture.
Mexican-American Studies programs are being made available to some high school in the state, which have collaborated with community colleges, and other plans are in development. These partnerships that will not only grow knowledge in regards to Mexican-American culture, will also establish a relationship between the high school student and the community college, as dual credit is offered for coursework complete it, and will encourage the student to pursue their degree.
Barbara Cargill, chair of the State Board of Education, suggested that Latino activist should pursue the challenge through local districts, rather than requesting that the state develop course work. She stated that it would be impossible to develop courses in time for January voting.
The State Education Board has taken an inactive role when it comes to prioritizing Latino Americans, and informing them about their own cultures. Some educators have pointed out that the dropout rates among Latinos are a clear indicate that there needs to be a greater emphasis on Mexican-American Studies. Whites lead high school graduation rates by 93 percent, and Latinos fall behind that number by 8.7 percent.
These numbers are guaranteed not to rise if Latinos continue to not see themselves positively represented in textbooks. There will be no incentive to succeed if they don't see any examples of heroes, scholars, politicians and revolutionaries who look like them in the material they are forced to consume.
Many continue to push for the development of these courses, including community members, educators and politicians, who look to expose teens to Latino heroes.