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Ethnic Studies: Mexican American Studies course wins initial approval

A new social studies course now called Ethnic Studies: Mexican American Studies won unanimous preliminary approval from the State Board of Education on June 15.

 A second and final vote on the curriculum standards for this course will occur at the board’s Sept. 11-14 meeting. If approved as is expected, this one-credit elective course will then become the first SBOE-approved ethnic studies course in Texas and one of the few available at the high school level in the country.

“We have passed a very strong course in Mexican American Studies,” said Board Vice Chair Marty Rowley.

Much of the debate over the past two board meetings has focused on the name of the course. Listening to public comment, the board compromised and agreed to change the name from Ethnic Studies: An Overview of Americans of Mexican Descent as was approved at the previous board meeting to Ethnic Studies: Mexican American Studies.

Board members said retaining the phrase ethnic studies is similar to having an area code on a phone number and signals that they are open to creating additional ethnic studies courses in the future. Using the language Mexican American Studies also aligns the course with the naming convention used in collegiate studies and was clearly the preferred language of those who testified before the board.

Once fully adopted, the course will be available for use in Texas public schools in the 2019-2020 school year. The course is based on a course created by the Houston Independent School District.