AUSTIN — The Texas State Board of Education approved a Mexican-American studies course Friday under what some consider to be a controversial title.
The course, which is titled "Ethnic Studies: An Overview of Americans of Mexican Descent," could be taught in Texas high schools as an elective as soon as the 2019-2020 school year.
Advocates have been demanding the course for about four years. However, some are calling the education board's decision a "bittersweet victory."
The course's title doesn't include the term "Mexican-American."
"People just can't bring themselves to call us what we are: Mexicans, Mexican Americans," University of Texas at Austin history professor Dr. Emilio Zamora told KVUE.
Zamora is a Mexican American, and was one of many who fought to get the board to approve a Mexican-American studies course under the title of "Mexican-American Studies."
"That was the understanding all the way throughout. For me, this is a very abrupt disruption of the whole process," Zamora said.
At the Emma S. Barrientos Mexican-American Cultural Center in downtown Austin, the term was front and center on its signage.
Chicano psychologist Dr. Manuel Zamarripa said having that visible representation is important for Mexican-American youth.
"For groups that are marginalized, historically and currently, having the sense of cultural pride is important," Zamarripa said. "Having the sense of belonging in society and having reflections of that success... from kindergarten all the way through grade 12."
It's something Zamora said research proves.
"This is very important to the Mexican-American youth. Their identity is so intimately tied to their experiences of neglect and under-representation," he said. "When they see that they're represented, they get interested. And when the teacher encourages that, that interest becomes excitement."
The fight to put the term "Mexican-American" back in the course title isn't over yet, however.
"This does not stop here," Zamora said. "This is going to continue. We trust [the board member] will vote their conscience."
The education board could consider renaming the course at a meeting in June where members will make a preliminary vote on the standards of the course.