Three years ago, State Board of Education Member Ruben Cortez asked his fellow members to create a Mexican American Studies elective course for public schools. Instead of adding the course, the board asked publishers to submit new textbooks on the subject through an existing elective: Special Topics in Social Studies.
Only one book was submitted by a small publishing company called Momentum Instruction. So far, it hasn’t gotten great reviews.
“It is littered with too many factual errors created by individuals with no subject matter expertise,” said Ruben Cortez at a press conference earlier this month denouncing the textbook. “Dripping with racism and intolerance.”
Cortez organized a committee of professors and one high school teacher to review the book. The committee found 141 errors in the book.
UT Austin history professor Emilio Zamora has also criticized the textbook.
“They do not make use of ongoing discussions, debates, treatments of themes and topics, the literature is vast and they’re not engaging that literature at all,” he said.
But Zamora doesn’t just blame the textbook authors. He says the State Board of Education set itself up for this situation.
“When they decided not to adopt the course in Mexican American Studies, they in effect denied publishers or discouraged publishers from submitting books for adoption,” Zamora said.
Since there’s no Mexican American Studies course, there’s no real market for these textbooks, and no incentive to write one.
Kiah Collier, public education reporter for the Texas Tribune, says administrators aren’t expected to vote on whether to accept the book until November.
“Board members might offer some indication of whether they support it or not,” she says, “but I don’t really think they’re going to make a decision today. It’s a pretty formal process that they’re going through.”
Listen to the full interview, including details on an upcoming Senate Committee hearing about school choice, in the audio player above.