Education News

Scholars Give Controversial Mexican-American Studies Book An F

The State Board of Education will consider the book at its meeting next Tuesday.

A new review by scholars calls the proposed book on Mexican-American studies as "flatly incorrect and offensive on many occasions."
A new review by scholars calls the proposed book on Mexican-American studies as “flatly incorrect and offensive on many occasions.”

A new report on a controversial, proposed textbook has given it a failing grade, calling it “flatly incorrect and offensive on many occasions.”

The report comes a week before the Texas Board of Education considers the book and hears more public comments about it.

State Board Member Ruben Cortez, a Democrat from Brownsville, requested a group of scholars to check out the book. They found hundreds of mistakes — so many that the lead reviewer said that the entire book would need to be written to fix them all.

“There’s no way this textbook can be corrected. The errors are so extensive and the reason it can’t be corrected is because it’s really not a textbook. It is a polemic,” said Trinidad Gonzales, a history professor at South Texas College in McAllen and member of the American Historical Association.

Gonzales said that there was a range in the kind of mistakes: factual errors, missing content and racist statements. He gave a few examples of the last category: “”The lazy Mexican sleeping under the tree, and the mañana idea, that Mexicans will put off to tomorrow everything they should do today and so on and so forth.”

He said that goes against what he learned growing up about the value of hard work and getting ahead. Gonzales added that if approved for Texas’ five million public school students, the book would send them the wrong message.

“If a student is to accept what the textbook argues, and they’re Latino, then they have to reject their family and community as having any value towards the development of the United States,” Gonzales said.

The book’s publisher Momentum Instruction stands behind the material and is very hopeful it will get the state’s seal of approval.

“The reality is there is clearly nothing racist in the book,” said Cynthia Dunbar, CEO of the publisher and former member of the Texas Board of Education.

She said that the stereotype of Mexicans as lazy was taken “out of context.”

“However, our editors went back through and pulled it and tried to see if there was anything that could be written in a better light,” she added. 

State reviewers also vetted the book this summer. They found only one error: that it gave the impression English is the official U.S. language, when there is no official, national language.

The State Board of Education will hold a public meeting on the book on September 13.

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Laura Isensee

Education Reporter

Laura Isensee covers education for Houston Public Media, including K-12 and higher education. Previously, she was a staff reporter at The Miami Herald and contributed to South Florida’s NPR affiliate. Her work has also appeared in The Dallas Morning News, Reuters and Clarín in Argentina. Laura has won awards for...

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