Mexican-American course in Texas matter of debate

Texas State Board of Education members are debating whether or not a Mexican-American elective social studies course has a place on the state’s official curriculum list. Over 50 organizations have urged the Board to include such a course in the elective list for high school students, that also includes classes like floral design and Web gaming.

Board Republicans are hesitant to approve such a move, saying that individual school districts already have the authority to teach such classes if they want. Some have even gone so far as to say that the move will inject “leftist ideals” into classrooms. Opponents also say that adding the course to the official state elective list could end up costing the state “millions,” according to Lady Theresa Thombs, an unsuccessful Republican candidate for the Board.

In Texas, people of Hispanic descent make up 51 percent of the population. More than 30 people testified in favor of the course addition at a Board meeting on Tuesday, including Tony Diaz, a member of MAS Texas and director of intercultural initiatives at Lone Star College in Harris County. Diaz pointed out that the Board adding the class is about more than giving permission to school districts to teach the class — but is also about leading the way when it comes to saying that Mexican-American heritage is something worth putting on the official curriculum.

The Board was scheduled to vote on the measure on Wednesday, but managed to avoid the vote, so the answer as to whether or not it will end up on the official elective list remains in the air.

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