Sunday, July 21, 2024

Mexican-American Studies: The new elective course in Texas


Mexican-American experts in Texas are protesting the name change of a recently approved high school elective course on Mexican-American studies arguing that the name represents a community’s culture and history.

“This course was named for a community rather than in partnership with the community and understanding why that community identifies that way,” said Erika Beltran of Fort Worth, who sits on the State Board of Education.

Back in April, the Texas State Board of Education voted to approve the elective course in Mexican-American studies, but called it “Ethnic Studies: An Overview of Americans of Mexican Descent,” instead of Mexican-American studies. The name change prompted Mexican-American experts and activists to push back.

This fight is headed to Austin on June 12 when the board is slated to meet again. Protesters want the state board to change the course name back to Mexican-American studies.

Press conferences/protest events were held at 1:30 p.m. in Fort Worth and several other Texas cities, including Austin, San Antonio, San Juan, Houston and El Paso. Roberto Calderon, a history professor at the University of North Texas in Denton, said the issue is important because the original name reflected an area of study by educators, historians and sociologists.

David Bradley, a Republican from Beaumont who proposed the name change, told reporters after the name change vote: “I find hyphenated Americanism to be divisive.” However not everyone agrees, Jacinto Ramos, a trustee on the Fort Worth school board, was among speakers at the Fort Worth event.

“This is not an anti-white conversation,” Ramos said, explaining that the goal is to help all students understand how their histories are relevant in the world.