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Guest post: Why Floridians should care about Texas' plan to rewrite text books

25

March

Margeaux_chavez Let's Talk is pleased to welcome a guest blog post from Margeaux Chavez, a graduate student at the University of South Florida specializing in applied anthropology studies and education:

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By now we've all heard about the Texas State Board of Education's decision to rewrite their text books. While there are so many reasons to be outraged about this decision, the reason that hits closest to my heart is the removal of Latinos (and other minorities) from the history books because they apparently "lack the stature, impact and overall contributions of so many others."

I went through 11 years of U.S. history in school before I saw myself in the history books I was reading, and even then my history was relegated to immigration patterns and suffering. There was nothing, say, of the strength and impact of Latino organizers like Cesar Chavez, or the inspiring contributions of Latinas like Joan Baez to American art and politics. As a senior, I was given two books by an excellent history teacher: Howard Zinn's A People's History of the United States and Latino USA: A Cartoon History. I was told at the time that these were "alternative histories" and I couldn't help thinking, "alternative to what?" What is history if not something that everyone has and owns?

Too often history is taught as a time line, something that has a start point and an ending point and can only incorporate one perspective from start to finish. American students are often taught to conceive of history in chapters and movements that compartmentalize, treating the history of white males as, for lack of a better analogy, the trunk of a tree while, women, African Americans, Jewish Americans, Native Americans, Muslims, Latinos, and so many others are just branches that connect at certain intervals. Furthermore, how many white males think of themselves in such narrow terms?

With this new decision, the Texas SBOE is trimming all the branches and presenting...well, whose history is left?

As Floridians, we may feel removed from the decisions affecting children in Texas. We may believe that such a decision could never be made by our own school board. However, as American citizens, we cannot allow such a precedent to be set without speaking up.

Picture in your mind anything in your history that you hold dear. Now imagine that a small majority want it eradicated. History is nothing if not dynamic and multi-dimensional. Let's not allow pluralism to be disregarded.

The Texas school board is set to give final approval to the changes in May. They voted 10-5 to give their preliminary approval earlier this month. I encourage all of you who feel strongly about this decision to write to Texas Commissioner of Education, Robert Scott at commissioner@tea.state.tx.us. and let yourself be heard

Your thoughts? Share your feedback below on what's happening in Texas.

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If you have a guest blog post that you would like to share, please let me know. Topics must relate to news or events affecting Floridians, particularly in the Tampa Bay region. You can e-mail me: kmcallister@sptimes.com or contact me on Facebook or Twitter.

[Last modified: Monday, May 24, 2010 5:04pm]

    

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