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The Source: Controversial Textbook Renews Ethnic Studies Debate

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Photo from the cover of "Mexican American Heritage" textbook. Courtesy of Momentum Instruction
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The State Board of Education unanimously rejected a controversial Mexican-American studies textbook earlier this month, after a months-long battle to decide whether to include it on the board's list of recommended texts for the 2017-2018 school year. If it had been approved, "Mexican American Heritage" would have been the first Mexican-American history book recommended for public schools in Texas.

In a 54-page report, an ad hoc committee concluded that the textbook  "doesn't meet basic standards and guiding principles in the history profession." The committee called the text "a prolific misrepresentation of facts," citing more than 400 errors identified by researchers.

Many critics said the book is more than just factually incorrect - it's racist and offensive. The book's publisher, Momentum Instruction, argued they "are not verified factual errors, but disagreements with the book's viewpoint."

The board also unanimously voted to issue a call for submissions of additional ethnic studies materials, including Native American and African American texts.

Fights over ethnic studies have been ongoing for decades. Supporters argue that minorities including Hispanics are underrepresented in the content of Texas' historical curriculum, while opponents worry such texts are divisive and seditious. 

Guests:

  • Juan Tejeda, Mexican-American Studies advocate and instructor at Palo Alto College
  • Frederick Hess, resident scholar and director of education policy studies for the American Enterprise Institute