Thursday, April 8, 2010

The Texas Textbook Massacre: Latino/as and Epistemic Violence

The Texas School Board has recently been in the news for mandating a conservative perspective on courses in history and social studies. (See Terrence Stutz, Texts Won't Cover Tejanos at Alamo, Dallas Morning News, March 12, 2010). Among other things, the Texas School Board decided that Texas students need not be taught the names of the eight Tejanos or Latino Texans who died fighting at the Alamo in the war for Texas' independence. In contrast, the Board ruled that it was appropriate for students to learn the names of Anglos who fought at the Alamo, including Davy Crockett and Jim Bowie. The Board also rejected requiring history teachers to cover the appointment of Sonia Sotomayor to the U.S. Supreme Court. On the other hand, conservatives from the 1980s and 1990s such as Phyllis Schlafly must be covered.

At this time in history, theorists of multiculturalism now understand that the failure to recognize minority cultures and histories is a form of oppression. Accordingly, broadening the educational curriculum is important to give appropriate recognition to those who have been left out. The Texas School Board's decision to omit Latino/as from history renders the Latino/a culture unrecognized and produces the special harm that comes from a failure to acknowledge. The Board's action is particularly shocking since Latino/as constitute roughly 30% of the Texas population and about 40% of the students in the Texas public schools.

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