EDITORIAL: SBOE should call it what it is: Mexican-American studies

The State Board of Education today is expected to give final approval to a statewide Mexican-American studies curriculum, however they aren’t calling it that.

Instead, the board earlier this week voted to call the statewide curriculum “Ethnic Studies: An Overview of Americans of Mexican Descent.”

Whatever.

We all know what the curriculum is about. So why not call it Mexican-American studies?

Why not make it absolutely clear to students who are Mexican-American that this course is about learning their history and their ancestry and ways that they can be proud of who they are?

Perhaps we should be grateful that the course finally appears to be getting legs, after eight years of bitter and unnecessary debate and stalling. During this time, teachers in school districts had to develop their own curriculum if they wished to teach the material. That precluded many smaller school districts in Texas from offering these courses as creating material takes resources that many didn’t have. And it prevented all of the courses from offering the same, comprehensive set of materials to be taught to all Texas students.

SBOE member David Bradley, a Republican from Beaumont, during a Wednesday hearing in Austin proposed the new, unnecessary name for the course explaining: “I don’t subscribe to hyphenated Americanism. … I find hyphenated Americanism to be divisive.”

Well we are a hyphenated, melting-pot society. And that’s what makes us great. We are comprised of African-Americans, Mexican-Americans, and many others. Recognizing our different groups doesn’t divide us, it makes us better because we realize how diverse our country is and yet how divided and strong our democratic foundation is that holds us all together.

SBOE Board Member Ruben Cortez, a Democrat from Brownsville, suggested those opposed to the name change show up and testify during public hearings scheduled for June. “We can change the name in the public comment phase if enough of you turn out,” said Cortez who has been a leading advocate for the creation of a Mexican-American studies curriculum, or TEKS (Texas Essential Knowledge Skills.)

We agree and encourage the public to voice its support for the new curriculum, but displeasure in this excessively long and unnecessary name.

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