The push to institute a required Mexican-American studies course in all Texas schools was recently bypassed by the Texas Board of Education. However, the Board says they made the decision to not require the course, but to let each individual school or school district decide if they wanted to offer special topics ethnic studies on their own.
"Certainly our Mexican-American heritage is important in Texas, we know that because of history and just the involvement we've had, and, of course, the number of students that comprise our student population. However, that is a decision that local school districts can best make," said Marty Rowley, Member of the Texas State Board of Education, District 15.
For local, Leo Zubia, he is disappointed in the Board's decision. Being of Mexican descent, with several children and grandchildren in school, he says it is important that they understand both their Mexican and American history.
"I think it is better because they never lose their culture from Mexico. So they can keep going in their same culture, and in the same way they can join American culture, too," said Zubia. "It's an important thing, you know, because we need to keep teaching them, that way they know where we come from."
West Texas A&M history professor, Tim Bowman, who specializes in Mexican-American history, says that the Mexican history in the United States is very unique, in its own way. He also says he believes part of the opposition of legislatures to passing a requirement just for Mexican-American history is that it would create a separate idea of patriotism between their Mexican heritage and American background.
"Why there is so much opposition to the Mexican-American teachings and Mexican-American studies is that state legislators tend to look at these [Mexican-American] texts and they think, 'Well, if students are reading these types of things, and learning about these type of things, then they're being taught an Anti-American sort of history, which is not the case at all," said Bowman.
Rowley says that is not the case at all. He says the Board is not commenting one way or another about the importance of the course, but simply think it is important that it is left up to the school to decide whether to include courses on various cultures.
"Those local school districts are there on the streets, in the classrooms. They know better what needs to be offered, and so we felt like any ethnicity that the school district wanted to represent and provide courses on, they'd have that full and fair opportunity to do so," said Rowley
The call for textbooks for Special Topics in Social Studies will include, but is not limited to, Mexican American Studies, African American Studies, Native American Studies and Asian American Studies.