Justice

A Textbook Filled With Racist Errors Is Causing Debate in Texas

A proposed public school textbook called "Mexican-American Heritage" is causing controversy with historians and advocates, who allege it is filled with errors and racist assertions about Mexican-Americans.

A committee of public school and college educators formed by Texas School Board Rep. Ruben Cortez announced Monday that the proposed textbook for Texas high school students, "Mexican-American Heritage," had 68 factual errors, 42 "interpretive errors," and 31 "errors of ommission."

Controversial "Mexican American Heritage" textbook.

"This supplemental material narrowly focuses a specific agenda that is anti-Catholic, anti-Spanish, anti-Mexican, anti-Mexican American, and anti-immigrant," the committee wrote in its report.

At a news conference Monday, advocates called for the Texas State School Board to pull textbook from its list of pre-approved materials. The Texas School Board will review the book in the fall, according to The Washington Post.

In one section, the textbook states: 

"Stereotypically, Mexicans were viewed as lazy compared to European or American workers ... It was also traditional to skip work on Mondays, and drinking on the job could be a problem," read one part of the book, according to the Texas Tribune.

Another passage in the book reinforced the idea about lazy Mexican workers, according to The Washington Post.

“Industrialists were very driven, competitive men who were always on the clock and continually concerned about efficiency. They were used to their workers putting in a full day’s work, quietly and obediently, and respecting rules, authority, and property. In contrast, Mexican laborers were not reared to put in a full day’s work so vigorously. There was a cultural attitude of ‘mañana,’ or ‘tomorrow,’ when it came to high-gear production.”

Also Mexican-Americans are described as people who "adopted a revolutionary narrative that opposed Western civilization and wanted to destroy this society," according to the Houston Chronicle.

The textbook also takes an anti-immigration slant saying that undocumented immigrants "caused a number of economic and security problems in the United States," according to the Houston Chronicle.

"Poverty, drugs, crime, non-assimilation, and exploitation are among some of these problems. Studies have shown that the Mexican American community suffers from a significant gap in education levels, employment, wages, housing, and other issues relating to poverty that persist through the second, third, and fourth generations."

This is the first textbook on Mexican-American history to ever be included on a list of pre-approved books for Texas Public Schools, according to the Houston Chronicle. School systems can now decide whether they want to incorporate the book into their materials for the school year.

The textbook was produced by Momentum Instruction, a company that is owned by Christian conservative lawyer Cynthia Dunbar, a former Texas School Board member. Dunbar home-schooled her own children because she said a public school education for her children would be like "throwing them in to the enemy's flames," according to the Guardian.

In 2010, when Dunbar was holding her politically elected position on the school board, she moved to make the textbooks more conservative by emphasizing patriotism, God, and downplaying the impact of slavery.

"We are fighting for our children's education and our nation's future," Dunbar said in 2010, according to the Guardian. "In Texas we have certain statutory obligations to promote patriotism and to promote the free enterprise system. There seems to have been a move away from a patriotic ideology. There seems to be a denial that this was a nation founded under God. We had to go back and make some corrections."

The Texas School Board is a political board, whose elected members are affiliated with political parties.


Mexican-American Professor Juan Tejeda from Palo Alto College in San Antonio told ATTN: back in May that political considerations are a big problem with the textbook process in Texas. "Personally I don't think this is a very good process," he said. "Textbooks should be decided by experts in the field, and this is something that should be dictated by the legislature. I have no faith in the people making the decisions."

"Immigrants have contributed to society," he continued. "These stereotypes are disregarding a lot of the positive contributions, and that is what we're trying to get into our schools."

Accurate textbooks are important for minorities to thrive in the United States, Tejeda said.

"We have to see ourselves in this context, and a positive depiction of who we are, to be able to relate to American society and the world." he said. "This is very, very important."

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