Texas board rejects second Mexican-American studies textbook attempt

The second attempt at a Mexican American Studies textbook has been denied.

TEXAS - AUSTIN, Texas - The Texas Board of Education for the second year has rejected a Mexican-American studies textbook, with members arguing this time the book wasn't expansive enough.

Wednesday's vote was preliminary and a formal decision will come later, but there was no indication the board's decision will change.

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

The board spurned that first book after experts said it was rife with factual errors and anti-Hispanic bias.

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Three years ago, the Republican-controlled board refused to create a full Mexican-American studies course for the state. Instead, it asked publishers to submit proposed ethnic studies textbooks that high schools could use to create their own courses.

State Board of Education member David Bradley told KVUE the members voted down the new book 14 to 1 Wednesday.

"Poor grammar, poor punctuation, spelling errors, lack of citing references. Just a disorganized style. You know, content was not the issue, because it certainly addressed the subject area, it was just a text book that was not up to the standards of the state of Texas requires,” Bradley said.

KVUE spoke to the author of the textbook, Tony Diaz, who questioned their motivations.

"Part of me has to ask, 'Do they even want Mexican American studies textbooks, or classes in the state?" Diaz said. "They may not want Mexican American studies on their watch. It's here, and I'm so glad that we've gotten scholars together to produce this book, we've got to do it on our own, and that's the lesson."

Diaz calls the vote disappointing, and said he will continue to push for the book.

"Now I'm even more fired up, because guess what? I realized we have to do it ourselves, and on top of it, the time is now. If not now, when?" Diaz said.

He believes the book meets state standards such as TEKS.

Bradley has served on the SBOE for more than 20 years.

"The board, after three years of work is trying to find a suitable textbook to address the needs and the concerns and desires of the community to have a Mexican American studies course,” Bradley said.

But he said the book written by Diaz isn’t the answer.

"Unfortunately, once again we only had one submission, which was disappointing,” Bradley said.

But, he applauds Diaz for his work.

"I would not fault the author. He certainly put his heart and soul into it. I lay blame at the feet of the publisher," Bradley said.

According to Bradley, the publisher has submitted textbooks before, and “knows the standards.”

"I would suspect and suggest they didn't even provide basic editing,” said Bradley.

Bradley said there wasn’t a large group of supporters at the meeting to urge them to give approval to the book. For him, that means there’s not a high demand for that type of textbook.

He also doesn’t think it’s something districts can afford.

"This book was priced at almost $90, and that's just prohibitive. No district is going to spend $90 for a classroom instruction material of poor quality,” Bradley said.

But, he said school districts can still purchase the book if they choose to.

"I think we have a good process. I know it was a little frustrating for everyone concerned, but again districts still have the flexibility to buy this book if they would like. It's simply not going to have our good housekeeping seal of approval,” Bradley said.

Diaz feels it’s something districts need and should invest in.

"There is so much research that proves that students who take culture relevant courses go to school more often, perform better and it's proven they perform better not just in the Mexican American studies course, they pass math tests, reading tests, they're more likely to graduate," Diaz said. "These courses aren't just for Mexican American students, these are open to everybody, and everybody benefits from these courses."

The board will take a final vote Friday, but Bradley said he doesn't anticipate anyone's votes to change.

"Absent the board wanting to entertain for a third time new submissions, the issue is dead," Bradley said.

© 2017 KVUE-TV


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