The Standard’s news roundup gives you a quick hit of interesting, sometimes irreverent, and breaking news stories from all over the state.
State Board of Education rejects Mexican-American studies textbook
For the second year in a row, the State Board of Education has denied approval for a Mexican-American studies textbook for Texas public schools.
Last year, the board rejected a textbook that experts argued was riddled with factual errors and and anti-Latino bias. Now, the board says this new book isn’t expansive enough.
Dan Quinn, the communication director of the Texas Freedom Network, a public education watchdog group, says the State Board of Education put itself in this position by soliciting Mexican-American studies textbooks from publishers before it adopted any curriculum standards.
“Bottom line here is if the state board had done what advocates and scholars had asked them to do more than three years, we’d probably have a textbook for these courses in Texas schools today,” Quinn says.
He says the State Board of Education now seems determined to adopt new curriculum standards for a Mexican-American studies course, but that could take up to three years. Then the board would have to go through the textbook adoption process, which could take an additional year or two.
Advocates call for more mental health support for students
A new report calls on Texas lawmakers to develop a statewide plan for addressing and measuring student trauma in schools after Harvey.
It finds that state leaders are putting more and more emphasis on addressing children’s mental health at school, but that those efforts are largely local. Not even the Texas Education Agency systematically collects data on efforts to improve ‘school climate,’ which is the quality and character of school life.
Josette Saxton authored the report for the advocacy group Texans Care for Children. She says that if student trauma isn’t addressed – whether from a hurricane or even the shooting in Sutherland Springs – it has long-term consequences.
“If we’re not appropriately recognizing and responding to trauma and other mental health concerns in students we’re going to see difficulty in school test performance and behavior,” Saxton says. “However, if we do address these issues what we’ll see is more kids will graduate, there will be more kids in school in safe environments, and it will keep kids out of our juvenile justice system and healthy in their adult years.”
The state did launch a new Hurricane Harvey Task Force on School Mental Health Supports last month. Saxton says that while it shines a light on student mental health as an issue, it does not have dedicated funding or much authority.
Texas executed Mexican national convicted of murder
Despite an international uproar, Texas executed a Mexican national on Wednesday night.
Ruben Cardenas was convicted and sentenced to death in the 1997 slaying of his 16-year-old cousin, but in the days leading up to his death, both Mexican officials and international human rights organizations decried the execution.
They say Cardenas was not given a chance to speak with his country’s consulate after he was arrested more than two decades ago. That’s a violation of an international treaty.
In a news release on Monday, experts with the United Nations Human Rights Commision opposed the execution. “If the scheduled execution of Mr Cárdenas goes ahead, the US Government will have implemented a death penalty without complying with international human rights standards,” they stated.
Cardenas previously confessed to the killing and led authorities to the body, but his representatives claimed that his confession was coerced and evidence against Cardenas was faulty.