What counts as part of U.S. History and who gets to be included in the books? If you leave it up to certain groups and individuals, the only things taught in American history would be the constitution, the founding fathers, and the notion of “American exceptionalism.” In other words, there would be no mention of America’s diversity, the civil rights movement, the farmworker & union movement, contributions by leaders of color to fight for equality, etc.
This is where we could be headed if we let the Texas State Board of Education (SBOE) pass the current draft for social studies standards. While they might not be excluding folks like Cesar Chavez and Thurgood Marshall in curriculum altogether, it is clear (and unacceptable) that there are currently no Latino leaders and barely any women or other leaders of color in the required curriculum! This means that some leaders, like Cesar Chavez, are currently on the “such as” list for curriculum standards, meaning teachers don’t have to teach about him if they don’t want to or don’t have the time.
Knowing that this would most likely result in students missing out on the rich history of the farmworker struggle, LUPE staff and members including Martha Sanchez, Antonio Carrizalez and Jose Saldana made the long journey to Austin to testify before the SBOE to call for Cesar to be included in the “Required” list for 5th grade social studies.
Watch LUPE Organizer Martha Sanchez talk about the importance of teaching about Cesar Chavez, a non-violent role model and one especially relevant for children who face violence on a daily basis:
It was a little hard to hear, but near the end Board Member Rene Nuñez says that he will make every effort to include Cesar Chavez in the required curriculum!
Here’s LUPE member Jose Saldana’s testimony where he talks about the legacy of Cesar Chavez as an important civil rights leader who dedicated his life to improving American workers’ lives:
Also present were members from LULAC, the Multicultural Alliance for Social Studies Advocacy, the ACLU, Texas Civil Rights Project, and State Rep. Norma Chavez (D-El Paso). The final vote will likely be in March so stay tuned on action items to make sure our students learn all aspects of American history and its rich diversity.
And take a few minutes to watch Rebecca Flores, retired UFW organizer, give her testimony here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KT-zNeOsraA
Si se puede!