Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Write Chicano History Into the California State Textbooks

A Call for Public Participation !

By Duane Campbell
Mexican American/Chicano history is substantially absent from public school textbooks and curriculum in California- and it has been since  1986.  This year we have an opportunity to change that. 
California has the largest student  population of any state, with more than 6,236,000 students  in school in 2013.  Students who are Mexican American of Latino heritage make up over 53% of the total school population. 
Latino student political non participation  and disconnectedness is significantly caused by Latino absence from the K-12 textbooks and curriculum. 
Children and young adults need to see themselves in the curriculum.  Students, have low levels of attachment to California and U.S.  civics engagement in significant part because the government institution they encounter the most- the schools-  ignore the students’ own history, cultures and experiences.

California state textbooks currently largely ignore the roles of Mexican Americans and Latinos in building this state.  Students need to learn civic engagement – it is not automatic.  Students need to learn that they belong , that they are a part of the community and its history.

California schools and history teachers should lead the way in preparing  young people for civic life in our  pluralist society.   They  are not. Incomplete and inaccurate history, along with incomplete and inaccurate economics harms not only Latinos and Asians, but the Anglo students as well.  When Anglo students  are taught an inaccurate view of Latino /Mexicano history in the state, they fail to accurately understand the major demographic shift presently occurring  and this lack of knowledge   contributes  to fear, misunderstanding  and conflict such as that promoted in the current anti immigrant campaigns. 
We can change this.   The content of the k-12 textbooks and the curriculum is directed by a state document- the History/Social Science Framework for California’s public schools.  The current 1987 framework is outdated. State law requires that the frameworks be updated each 7 years.  There was no significant change from 1987 until 2009.  ( In 2001 the publishers added a photo of Cesar Chavez.)

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