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New report finds US history textbooks widely neglect Latino events, contributions

Opened book library
IMAGO/Zoonar / Reuters
Opened library book

Hispanic students represent more than a quarter of the 50.8 million K-12 public school students in the United States.

But a new report by The Institute for Education Policy at Johns Hopkins University and nonprofit UnidosUS found U.S. history textbooks fail to cover significant events in the Latino experience.

The analysis examined five high school U.S. history textbooks and one AP U.S. history textbook to consider how Latinos are depicted, and the extent to which the books covered Latino events.

The study's authors found 87% of key topics in Latino history were either not included or were mentioned in fewer than five sentences.

This includes material on the Mexican-American War, the modern civil rights movement, and racial segregation.

Topics about American land purchases from Mexico and foreign policy in Latin America were among the few most fully covered.

It also found the appointment of Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court was the only common Latino breakthrough moment highlighted from the last 200 years.

“As the country grows more diverse, it’s essential for our future workers, businesspeople, community leaders, and public officials to learn about the contributions and experiences of all Americans, including Latinos,” said Viviana López Green, senior director of the Racial Equity Initiative at UnidosUS.

The authors of the study recommend policymakers prioritize high-quality social studies materials that are content-rich and inclusive, and budget for curriculum-aligned professional development.

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