Blog: Latino Ed Beat

Educators’ Interest in Latino Studies Courses Grows

Arizona made national headlines in 2010 with its law banning ethnic studies in public schools. That move resulted in the dismantling of the Tucson Unified School District’s Mexican American Studies program.

Four years later, educators in Texas and California are trying to drum up support for Latino and ethnic studies programs. The majority of public school students in both states are Latino. 

So far, efforts statewide have stalled but support among teachers and at the local level exists. Last spring, the Texas State Board of Education decided not to approve a Mexican American Studies class, despite a groundswell of support.

However, the San Antonio Express-News reports that educators advocating for some sort of Latino studies program are hoping to offer such courses through social studies “special topic” classes allowed by the state. The newspaper noted that the Mexican American Studies program at Palo Alto College in San Antonio will offer dual-language courses at two local high schools.

California does not have a statewide ethnic studies curriculum either, but the Los Angeles Times reports that one school district forged ahead on its own. The El Rancho Unified School District board recently voted to make taking an ethnic studies course a requirement for high school graduation. The curriculum is still being created.

“When students learn about themselves, their history, it gives them self-worth and self-esteem, and they do better in school,” school board vice president Jose Lara told the Times.

District officials pursued the idea after learning that California Assemblymember Luis Alejo wanted to pursue statewide ethnic studies courses. Alejo has proposed a bill that would create a taskforce to study creating a high school ethnic studies curriculum.