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Texas Education Board Approves 'Ethnic Studies: Mexican-American Studies'

Marjorie Kamys Cotera for The Texas Tribune
Devyn Gonzales and Gilberto Sanchez raise their arms in support of changing the name of a new course on Mexican-American history to "Mexican-American Studies" at a State Board of Education hearing on Tuesday.

"Texas education board votes to call long-sought Texas course "Ethnic Studies: Mexican-American Studies"" was first published by The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan media organization that informs Texans — and engages with them — about public policy, politics, government and statewide issues.

The State Board of Education indicated in a preliminary vote on Wednesday that it would change the name of Texas' new high school Mexican-American history course to “Ethnic Studies: Mexican American Studies.”

The unanimous vote came a day after activists urged the board in public testimony to scrap the title members chose for the course in April, “Ethnic Studies: An Overview of Americans of Mexican Descent,” saying the longer title was an assault on their ethnic identity.

The decision will not become official until Friday, when the board is scheduled to take a final vote.

The new title was proposed by Democratic board member Georgina Pérez and supported by David Bradley, the Republican member who suggested the longer title in April. Pérez was careful to point out that the new title would not include a hyphen between Mexican and American. When Bradley proposed the longer title two months ago, he said he found “hyphenated Americanism to be divisive.”

Two of the Democrats — Ruben Cortez and Marisa Perez-Diaz, who had led the opposition to the longer title — voiced concerns with the “ethnic studies” component of the new name.

“It doesn’t make any sense,” Cortez said. “I think we should name the course what it is. Mexican-American studies is a field of study. It’s not ‘Ethnic Studies: Mexican American Studies.’”

But Christopher Carmona, a Mexican-American studies professor at the University of Texas - Rio Grande Valley who has campaigned against the longer title, said he considers the board’s decision to be a victory. “We finally have our name back,” he said in an email shortly after the vote.

Disclosure: The University of Texas - Rio Grande Valley has been a financial supporter of The Texas Tribune. A complete list of Tribune donors and sponsors is available here.