Day: <span>May 12, 2016</span>

Another attempt to rewrite Texas history


Cynthia Dunbar did the school children of Texas a huge favor when she voluntarily retired from the State Board of Education several years ago. But she hasn’t retired her viewpoint that the only aspects of Texas and American history worth recording were coated in white – skin color, not snow.

She also had a fundamentalist, theocratic view of government, but that’s another issue.

Now, as misfortune would have it, Dunbar is back as a contributor to the first and only, so far, textbook on Mexican American history submitted for State Board of Education approval this year. And, to no great surprise, it mostly ignores Mexican American contributions to Texas’ history and distorts what it does present.

It’s a disservice to all of Texas’ school children and a slap in the face to an ethnic group that is a majority of Texas’ public school enrollment and rapidly becoming a majority of the state’s population.

My thanks to Dan Quinn of the Texas Freedom Network and Patrick Michels of the Texas Observer for raising flags. Michels’ story is linked below. Fortunately, school districts can select different books if they choose to schedule a Mexican American studies elective, and some publishers may provide them, bypassing the State Board of Education.

“What’s most notable about the text, on first glance, is how little attention is given to the history of Mexican-American people,” Michels writes. A passage on Latin American literature, for example, features well-known writers from Colombia, Chile and Brazil.

In one passage of the book, the authors write, “Chicanos, on the other hand, adopted a revolutionary narrative that opposed Western civilization and wanted to destroy this society.”

Bunk. Almost sounds as if Donald Trump were a ghost-writer.

Chicanos have spent much of their history in Texas demanding fair working conditions, livable wages and the right to vote. In fact, they still are fighting for the right to vote in the wake of the legislative majority’s enactment of a voter identification law that was designed specifically to prohibit low-income Hispanics and African Americans from voting.

As the Texas Observer points out, this book probably isn’t what State Board of Education Member Ruben Cortez and other supporters had in mind when they won approval of a Mexican American studies elective.

But it is exactly what you would expect from people who continue to deny Texas’ history and jeopardize its future.