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Lawmakers push for ethnic social studies courses in Texas public schools

Under House Bill 45, Mexican American and African American studies courses would only be offered to high school students.

AUSTIN, Texas — A group of diverse lawmakers are drawing attention to a bill that would require Texas school districts to offer ethnic social studies courses.

House Bill 45 would add Mexican American and African American studies as courses students can take to satisfy their social studies requirement.

Lawmakers say not only will this offer students a more robust view of Texas history, but studies show it can lead to academic success.

State Rep. Christina Morales authored HB 45. She is re-filing it this year, after an identical bill passed in the House in 2021 but died in the Senate.

On Wednesday at the Capitol, Morales was joined by Reps. Gene Wu, Alma Allen and Ron Reynold,  to name a few. She was also joined by the Mexican American Legislative Caucus and Texas Legislative Black Caucus.

"We are more than just a footnote," Wu said of public school's history curriculum.

Morales said she is blessed to know her culture and history thanks to her family.

"This bill will give students choices in allowing students to learn different perspectives and history," Morales said.

Morales pushed that courses such as ethnic social studies lead to higher graduation rates and a higher likelihood of students enrolling into college. She said that was especially important in the "post-pandemic world" we are living in.

She also touted that bipartisan support efforts like hers have received in the past.

"Mexican American studies and African American studies were unanimously approved by the Republican and Democratic members in the state board of education," Morales said. "So this is bipartisan."

Co-authoring this bill, among others, is Rep. Alma Allen. She said she would support HB 45 as many times as it takes to pass.

"Texas history is American history," Allen said. "American history is all of our history."

Educators joined lawmakers for the lawmakers' press conference in support of ethnic social studies courses.

Tony Diaz, an educator in Houston, said these types of courses were first taught in Houston Independent School District.

"Texas was the first state to unanimously support Mexican American history and African American history," Diaz said. "It lets students know why this history is important."

Reynolds said HB 45 is a chance to take steps forward instead of backward. 

"This bill will certainly be a great reflection of the true diversity of this state, which is our strength and certainly help with healing," Reynolds said.

Under HB 45, Mexican American and African American studies courses would only be offered to high school students.

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