Texas Ed Board Rejects Error-Filled Mexican American Textbook

Hispanic Studies Textbook - via Tony Diaz
Photo Courtesy of Tony Diaz

The Texas State Board of Education (SBOE) ended a months-long debate and voted unanimously to reject a textbook intended for use in a Mexican American studies elective.

On Friday, the full board voted 15-0 to reject Mexican American Heritage, the lone textbook submitted by Momentum Instruction. This followed months of contentious disagreement over the validity of the proposed textbook which critics alleged was full of factual errors.

This outcome was expected. On Wednesday, the state board preliminarily voted 14-0 against adopting Momentum’s offering for the Special Topics in Social Studies elective.

On Tuesday, Momentum Instruction CEO Cynthia Dunbar, a former SBOE member, argued on behalf of the book before the board. She maintained Momentum submitted a textbook compliant with SBOE defined criteria for a “special topics” elective, a process different than one for a mandated year-long course. Education Commissioner Mike Morath actually signed off on the book for adoption but the board disagreed. SBOE chair Donna Bahorich told testifiers, “Everyone deserves to have their story told in a fair and accurate manner.”

In response to Friday’s 15-0 vote, Bahorich told Breitbart Texas by email, “While we applaud the effort of the publisher to submit instructional material for Proclamation 2017, the Board chose not to approve the book because of the concern over lingering errors in the text.”

She added, “Texas law requires that every instructional material approved be ‘free from factual errors.’ The Board received hundreds of reported errors in Mexican American Heritage and, in the end, did not have confidence that all the errors were appropriately corrected by the publisher.”

The board also voted unanimously to reopen the call for new Mexican American textbook submissions for the elective in 2018.

Critics now have the opportunity to submit textbooks to the board next year. The result of Friday’s vote does not prevent Dunbar from selling her book directly to the state’s 1,200-plus school districts.

The board also rejected seven career and technical education (CTE) submissions on Friday.

Recently, Breitbart Texas asked ardent Mexican American Studies (MAS) activist Tony Diaz why proponents for the Mexican American elective never submitted any textbooks given they had two years of time before the SBOE met on this matter.

This was a kerfuffle to put it mildly,” he said. “If  we open this up again, I promise you there are going to be books,” he added, chalking up the failure of Mexican American publishers, writers and scholars to submit any textbooks to a new process that was “a little complicated” to navigate. He said “some didn’t go through all the steps” or “finish the process.” He said others found it difficult to complete without rushing. “I’m a bit wiser now about the process,” he admitted.

He also expressed, in going forward, a willingness to reach out to “folks who might fear (MAS) might be indoctrination.” Ironically, many MAS supporters have slammed Dunbar as a conservative ideologue, alleging her book was “racist.” Over the years, some marginalized her as a Christian “evangelist” but few acknowledged Dunbar is of Native-American descent.

On Friday, Diaz applauded the SBOE for rejecting Mexican American Heritage. He tweeted: Yes!!! Great to see Texans unite for the best education possible!!!”

While Diaz sported a moderate and conciliatory tone when speaking to Breitbart Texas, he was livid two years ago when textbook selections for this elective were pushed back to 2017, asserting that decision would turn “the clock back on Texas to 1917.”

At the time, Breitbart Texas reported Diaz, also known as “Librotraficante” or “book trafficker,” touted an underground book drive in Phoenix to raise funds for Occupied America, the incendiary book authored by the father of Chicano Studies, Rodolfo Acuňa, a retired professor at California State University Northridge (CSUN). Diaz also claimed to smuggle banned books back into Tucson where, in 2010, Arizona shut down the Tucson Unified School District’s MAS program after the divisive nature of their curriculum was revealed.

Follow Merrill Hope, a member of the original Breitbart Texas team, on Twitter.


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