Review of “Mexican American Studies Toolkit” Textbook – Not Worthy for Our Children

by TTT Coalition on November 3, 2017

Truth in Textbooks (TNT) conducted a thorough review of a Mexican American textbook under consideration by the Texas State Board of Education by the author Tony Diaz entitled “The Mexican American Studies ToolKit”.

The full review (51 pages) can be found at this link.  It was completed by Dr. Sandra Alfonsi, Truth in Textbooks Senior Academic Fellow.  She has 25 years of experience. reviewing social studies textbooks and has worked with Truth in Textbooks since its inception in 2013.

The executive summary of the review is below followed by a few examples found in the report.

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This is perhaps the most wholly inadequate “textbook” I have seen or reviewed. It is long on opinion and short on historical context and content.  It should not be in any classroom. In my opinion, the book skews toward a random, opinion based storybook that presents itself as the history of Mexican Americans. As such, it trivializes the field of Mexican American Study and the cause of Mexican American and Latino rights.  The children of Texas would be grossly misinformed on the importance of Mexican heritage and the contributions Hispanics have enriched the culture of America.   

The book is problematic because it encourages the development of opinions by implication and innuendo instead of encouraging critical thinking through the examination of various perspectives and accounts. The book has anti-America sentiments, anti-Mainstream, anti-White, encourages radicalization as a part of being a good citizen, encourages and promotes civil disobedience, and implies civil anarchism is a good thing.  What also makes this book dangerous is the author holds himself up as the role model after whom the children should pattern themselves. By taking this approach, the book comes off as unseemly and strikes me as a form of self-promotion that I have never seen in my twenty-five years of reviewing textbooks.  Texas children and taxpayers who fund these purchases deserve books of a much higher standard than demonstrated by this submission.

To address the basic academic quality of this book: it is replete with grammatical errors, spelling errors, obtuse vocabulary, non-sequiturs and incorrect interpretation of language (Spanish to English translations and meanings.)

To address the documentation upon which this book rests:

  • Most of the book has NO source references and therefore little historical accuracy. Many “observations” are the author’s “perceived” interpretation of history versus what most history book in laying out well researched out facts on historical events.
  • My major concern is, however, the history with accompanying references given in a few of the chapters. The history and the accompanying sources are correct. The problem is how the author presents the documented history. He presents it as historical proof of his biased thematic approach with which he indoctrinates his students.

I highly commend the members of the State Review Panel for their commitment, not only to truth in education but to the children of Texas and I fully support their objective and well-reasoned Recommendation to NOT approve this book. I concur that the children of Texas deserve an education that will prepare them to approach life unbiased and capable of judging and making circumspect decisions that will impact their lives and the lives of American society. This can only be done if they learn with accurate, unopinionated and agenda-less textbooks and additional curriculum materials. This book cannot and does not respond to any of these guidelines.

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Just a few of the 59 false or misleading entries that illustrate this book is more about indoctrination than about educating students about the contributions of Hispanics to the American culture and history.

  • “But maybe we still don’t exist. Fifty-nine years later, there is not one Mexican American Studies building at any Texas university (mind you, Garcia’s own home state) that I can walk into and study the oral arguments he gave to the Supreme Court. The Justices even granted him extra time, a rare feat, a further testament to his skill.”
  • The University of Texas has a Mexican American Studies Department, a Center for Mexican American Studies, a Department of Mexican American and Latina/o Studies, and several interdisciplinary programs in Mexican American Studies.  Texas A& M University has the Latino/a and Mexican American Studies.  University of Texas Rio Grand Valley has Mexican American Studies, School of Interdisciplinary Programs and DiversityUniversity of Houston Center for Mexican American StudiesUniversity of Texas at Arlington Center for Mexican American Studies, UT El-Paso Chicano Studies, UT-San Antonio Department of Bi-Cultural-Bi-Lingual Studies and several more here, here and here.
  • “I thought I was a hyphenated American because I chose to call myself a Mexican-American. But looking at my resume, I realize I earned the designation because I’ve worked as a free-lance journalist, a teaching-assistant, and an assistant-editor. That must be why I am on un-employment.”
  • The author’s constant sarcasm is often laden with errors. In this case the only word actually hyphenated is free-lance.
  • “Mexican Americans had been socialized into accepting American values, that is, they had been manufactured into becoming better U.S. citizens. A large number of them had come to adopt notions of Americanism. Ideas of U.S. citizenship, Americanization, and accommodation were common themes expressed by the Mexican American Generation. Assimilation into American political and cultural mainstream had become the most effective way for responding to the oppressive conditions facing their communities.”
  • Blatant attack on the Mexican Americans who worked within the American system to better themselves and their communities. The author teaches by implication scorn for and refutation of America and its legal system, including the Constitution.
  • “Texican (also Texas Mexican)—A Tejano who wants to emphasize the Mexican influence in hisor her identify as in the ‘HECHO EN TEJAS: An Anthology of Texas Mexican Writers.’ ”
  • Texican  – A person living in Texas during the time of the Republic of Texas. A person modern who advocates that Texas secede from the United States. Source: https://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=texican
  • “U.S. Latinos, as a group, have suffered widespread discrimination. On the other hand, many Latinos have fortunately never suffered discrimination. This group consequently fails to empathize with efforts to seek equality and fair treatment. Many within this latter group adamantly assert that they are “Americans” and refuse to identify with activists seeking justice. In many cases, a light-skinned complexion has helped make life more “American” for them. In addition, others avoid the more blatant and negative treatment that Mexicans in particular have suffered. This group prefers to avoid the stigma that the term “Mexican” conveys. Besides the label American, they prefer an alternative, euphemistic label like Hispanic, Latin, or Spanish-speaking American.”
  • While this is historically “accurate”, it is another example of the author’s disdain for America and of the Latinos who choose to identify themselves as Americans.
  • :Latinx —This is the most recent term introduced to the discussion of American identity. Its most prominent aspect is the letter “x” at the end. Once users figure out how to correctly pronounce the word, if they are familiar with Spanish, they realize that the “x” overrides Spanish gender rules for words. Previous attempts to override those grammatical rules have led to versions such as Latino/s and Latin@s. The version of the term using @ has fallen out of favor since the “@” has moved on to bigger and greater things with its prominent role in social media. As of this writing, millennials have embraced the term the most. It now faces an uphill battle of capturing the imagination of more Americans who may not have access to the full explanation of what the term signifies. The term is exciting because it is a chance to define ourselves. Pushback comes from the fact that change comes slow. It has more currency with folks via social media. Older generations may have not even heard the term. Also, if an individual is emotionally invested in identity terms such as this, they may resist any new term.”
  • Outright fabrication “Latinx is used generally as a gender-neutral term for Latin Americans, but it has been especially embraced by members of Latin LGBTQ communities as a word to identify themselves as people of Latin descent possessing a gender identity outside the male/female binary.” Source:https://www.merriam-webster.com/words-at-play/word-history-latinx

Please contact your State Board of Education member and urge them to vote against adoption of this inaccurate and agenda laden textbook. You can find your particularly  SBOE member here or use this email address to all of the members,   sboesupport@tea.texas.gov

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