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Testimony Submitted to Texas State Board of Education

This week, the Texas State Board of Education (SBOE) debated Proclamation 2018 which served as notice to both publishers and the public that the Board is inviting bids to furnish instructional materials covering ethnic studies (e.g., African American Studies, Mexican American Studies, etc.) to be used in social studies. This is nationally important because states like Texas and California typically lead the way in the curriculum market because of their large-scale buying power.

Below I have included my written testimony on ethnic studies and Proclamation 2018. I have also included the input from the Texas NAACP on the importance and a reaffirmation of the Texas SBOE request for materials. I’ll begin with my testimony.

A prominent challenge in Texas is that the standards have in many ways historically excluded communities of color. Recent research by professors from the University of Texas at Austin that was published in the Harvard Educational Review analyzed the Texas standards and found that communities of color have been often excluded and sometimes misrepresented in the curriculum.

Considering the growing diversity in Texas, this is a travesty because the most recent research on ethnic studies has shown incredibly positive benefits for student success.

Research from Stanford University recently demonstrated that high school ethnic studies classes have reduced dropout rates for students of color, raised graduation rates, reduced unexcused absences, boosted self-esteem, raised self-efficacy, increased academic engagement, and raised personal empowerment.

Districts across the United States are recognizing the positive impacts of ethnic studies on students from all backgrounds. Many have passed resolutions requiring students to take an ethnic studies classes. In fact, here in Texas, the Houston Independent School District and others have confirmed the importance of ethnic studies courses for student success.

Texas students, educators, and other stakeholders have provided many examples and reasons in their testimony today to support ethnic studies.

Ethnic Studies should be available to every Texan.

Thus, I write in favor of rejecting the proposed textbook, and in support of Proclamation 2018 – a call to publishers for effective ethnic studies textbooks and instructional materials.

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Why has the road to ethnic studies been difficult in Texas? Georgina Cecilia Perez, Texas SBOE member, wrote in a email:

There is plenty of blame to go around: the lack of approved courses and standards leading to deplorable (alleged) textbooks submitted for review and potential adoption; the shortsightedness of placing the cart before the horse; the lack of funding for districts/campuses to effectively implement courses, purchase credible texts and instructional materials; the lack of funding for effective PD for our educators; etc.  Texas has a long way to walk on our path to restorative justice, effective education, equality, equitable school funding, and much more…  advocates carry a heavy burden, as do our educators… but most importantly, our students are hurt due to these injustices.  As adults, it is our responsibility to provide the blessings we know our children deserve. My hope is that there are enough of us to get it done.

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About Dr. Julian Vasquez Heilig (677 Articles)
Julian Vasquez Heilig is an award-winning researcher and teacher. He is currently a Professor of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies and the Director of the Doctorate in Educational Leadership at California State Sacramento.

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