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Hispanic State Lawmakers Challenge State Education Board

By Nathan Bernier

Dallas, TX –

INTRO: Hispanic state legislators in Texas marked the March 31st birthday of the late Mexican-American civil rights leader Cesar Chavez by launching a new challenge to the State Board of Education's social studies adoption process. KUT's Nathan Bernier reports.

The State Board of Education is in the process of revising social studies standards that will be taught in Texas public schools for the next decade. A clash between the more conservative and less conservative members on the board has become a messy cultural battle over which historical figures and political philosophies to include.

Trey Martinez: What we have discovered is that there is a process at the State Board of Education that I believe is indeed flawed, and I would argue that it calls into question whether our state laws are indeed being followed.

Trey Martinez is chairman of the Mexican American Legislative Caucus. His primary concern is not that Cesar Chavez didn't make it into 7th and 8th grade history. Or that Thomas Jefferson was removed from a list of influential philosophers. It's the process used to get there. The state board, Martinez says, is violating a section of the education code requiring the direct participation of educators, parents, and business people.

Martinez: And I think you will find a series of significant expert witnesses who have been ostracized, have been ignored, have been shoved by the wayside, that that others can get a curriculum that they want by any extreme measure.

Not so, according to one of the socially conservative members. Gail Lowe is chairperson of the State Board of Education.

Gail Lowe: The State Board of Education has spent more than a year in discussions and development of the social studies curriculum review standards. We have sought input from teachers, parents, professors, history experts, business and industry leaders, and it's our responsibility to develop those standards.

The Mexican American Legislative Caucus will hold a hearing on the State Board of Education's process on April 28th. The Board is scheduled to take a final vote on the social studies standards in May.

Nathan Bernier, KUT News