Texas looks to fix Mexican-American textbook critics call 'racist, not factual'

The Texas Board of Education now has a new textbook on Mexican American studies to possibly go into high schools across the state.

TEXAS - As of Wednesday, the Texas Board of Education now has a new textbook on Mexican American studies to look at and decide if it will go into high schools across the state.

This comes after the board unanimously rejected a proposed book last year after critics found factual errors and racist language. 

Tony Diaz showed reporter Christy Millweard the textbook he helped write and edit.

"It would be the first of its kind with state-wide access,” said Diaz.

The book called "Mexican American Studies Toolkit" will not be a required textbook, but instead part of a class students can elect to take if they want to.

"This book is not just good for Latinos, but for all students,” said Diaz.

Diaz, who is a professor at Lone Star College near Houston, compiled a variety of Latino writers, scholars, photographers and artists to contribute to the book.

"Behind it are Chicano writers, Chicano writers, Latino writers, Latino photographers, scholars, and I think the subtle message is that we are intellectuals -- our history does matter,” said Diaz.

That’s something Diaz said is much different from the textbook that was proposed last year.

"The last version of the book -- it was very offensive, because how can you write a book about Mexican American studies or history without even consulting one Mexican American,” said Diaz. "Some of the portions of it were deeply offensive to our community."

"The state is increasingly Latino, increasingly Mexican American, I believe it's more than half of the public school population,” said Jose Medina with the Texas Freedom Network. "When students see themselves in the material that's being taught, they take a better interest in school, and they perform better in school."

So far, he approves of the new book.

"It seems to be a much better product than what was proposed last year," said Medina. "We're happy to see that we have a much better product than we had last year, so hopefully this will move the ball forward, and we will soon have a solid book in classrooms.”

But he worries what may happen after the legislature passed a bill this year that allows the board to reject a book based on "suitability," a word he feels is too vague.

"We're concerned that this law will allow them to reject textbooks for whatever definition they come up with for what they consider suitable,” said Medina.

But Diaz said it's about finding what's suitable for all.

"To me, this is a chance for all of us to work together, to get a curriculum that could excite our students and get them more motivated,” said Diaz. "What I want to make clear to the Texas State Board of Education and to all folks, is that I'm here to work with them, to come up with the book that works for all of us, and will excite students across the state."

The board will vote on the book in November.

You can take a look at the textbook here.

© 2017 KVUE-TV


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