Hispanic advocacy groups in Texas want students across the state to have the opportunity to take a Mexican-American studies elective, but conservatives are putting up a fight.
On Wednesday afternoon, proponents of the idea got one step closer to making the courses a reality. The state's Board of Education voted after heated debate to ask textbook publishers to submit proposals for a Mexican-American studies curriculum by the 2016-17 school year.
It's not an outright victory because the publishers are under no obligation to create new books. Regardless, proponents for the statewide Mexican-American studies elective say the potential new textbooks will help local school districts create their own elective courses more easily.
The 11-3 vote surprised advocates, who had expected a much tighter margin. Opponents of the statewide Mexican-American studies elective had argued Mexican-American history is already included as part of social studies curriculum and some feared it could promote left-leaning politics.
But Board Member Ruben Cortez, who floated the idea, and other advocates said Texas schools are more than 50 percent Hispanic and the elective would offer all students an opportunity to learn more about the state's history as part of Mexico.
While it's the first time Texas has considered at the state level teaching Mexican-American studies, it's not a new issue. A law in Arizona essentially allows officials to ban some ethnic studies courses, which critics have said allows for discrimination. California is currently considering a bill that would create a standardized, statewide ethnic studies course.
We want to know: What do you think? Is a statewide Mexican-American studies elective a good idea in Texas?
Emily DeRuy is a Washington, D.C.-based associate editor, covering education, reproductive rights, and inequality. A San Francisco native, she enjoys Giants baseball and misses Philz terribly.