Hispanics, Blacks, and the Texas State Board of Education: Battling over Inclusionary History

Friday, January 6, 2012: 9:30 AM
Sheraton Ballroom III (Sheraton Chicago Hotel & Towers)
Laura K. Muņoz, Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi
This paper/comment explores how Hispanic and black elected officials, scholars, educators and citizens organized from 2007 to 2011 to demand the inclusion of ethnic, racial and gendered experiences in the state’s public school social studies curriculum.  In the fall of 2007, Hispanic members of the Texas State Board of Education (SBOE) began rallying Texans to pay attention to upcoming revisions to the state’s curriculum known as Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS).  A veteran board member since 1982, Mary Helen Berlanga (District 2, Corpus Christi) invited Rene Nuñez (District 1, El Paso) and Rick Agosto (District 3, San Antonio) to a one-day caucus in Corpus Christi to listen to university professors and educators from across the state discuss the potential for integrating the social studies standards.  Berlanga subsequently held news conferences for the general public announcing Hispanic omissions in the state’s curriculum and adopted textbooks.  In 2009 and 2010, Texas Senate and House leaders from the Black and Hispanic caucuses also challenged the SBOE’s failure to incorporate minorities into history.  In 2010, the caucus leaders called special hearings to ensure that the SBOE adhered to statutory law, and threatened to defeat legislation authorizing education expenditures.  In 2011, caucus leaders are currently proposing new legislation to ensure that “qualified scholars” review proposed curriculums for “accuracy” in advance of SBOE adoption.