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Textbook full of racist notes should be nixed

There’s a general agreement among demographers who are familiar with Texas that the makeup of the people of the Rio Grande Valley represents the future of this country.

So it’s baffling that, once again, elected officials in Austin threaten to marginalize South Texas demographics by insulting the history of the fastest-growing segment of the population, in this case through a school textbook that is being considered by the State Board of Education.

The book is entitled Mexican American Heritage, and it is rightfully drawing fire from historians for a number of inaccuracies that collectively paint Hispanics in Texas in an unfavorable light.

Exercising one of its most influential roles as an elected body, the SBOE will take a vote during its November meeting on whether to approve this textbook for use in Texas public schools.

For decades this approval process has given the SBOE influence far beyond the borders of Texas. This is because textbook publishers, seeing a lucrative market in serving the state’s 5 million public school children, often placate Texas and distribute the textbooks that our board selects to other states with fewer students — and less clout.

In years past, the SBOE had even more substantial influence — and power — because of its ability to influence the state’s curriculum.

But political power plays, driven by a social agenda by a majority of the board, caused the Texas Legislature to cut back the board’s authority.

Despite this, social activists, who once tried to downplay for Texas children the role of Martin Luther King Jr., in U.S. history, are once again attempting to diminish the contributions of people of color — in this case Hispanics.

“It is an utter shame we must deal with racially offensive academic work,” said Ruben Cortez Jr., who represents South Texas on the SBOE and, admirably, is denouncing the textbook.

Earlier this month, Cortez released the results of a study of the textbook that concluded it had 69 factual errors, 42 interpretive errors and 31 errors of omission.

We commend Cortez for waging this battle against a bigotry that is as overt as one passage in the textbook that reads, “In contrast, Mexican laborers were not reared to put in a full day’s work so vigorously. There was a cultural attitude of ‘manana,’ or tomorrow when it came to high-gear production.”

We urge residents of the Rio Grande Valley to speak out against this book at this week’s public hearings, as well as a final set of hearings set for Nov. 16-18, before the SBOE is set to vote on the textbook.

We call on the South Texas delegation to the Texas Legislature to weigh the actions of the SBOE, which continues to embarrass the state, and consider curtailing the powers of this board — or at least its makeup — to once again to stop it from its political posturing at the expense of our schoolchildren.

Finally, we demand that Gov. Greg Abbott denounce this textbook and all that it represents in the name of his Hispanic wife and the millions of Hispanic Texans whom he represents.

Texas has generally been able to steer clear of the ethnic conflicts that have plagued nearby Arizona. The adoption of this textbook would represent a giant step in the direction of Arizona.

It’s a step that the people of the Rio Grande Valley should not have to take on behalf of social bigotry emanating from Austin.

— The (McAllen) Monitor