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  The current 1987 framework is outdated.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.)

In 2008/2009 a committee was appointed and worked toward revision of the framework.  I and others testified on the need to improve the coverage of the Mexican American history.   Others testified on the need to improve coverage of Sikhs, Armenians, Arabs and others.  A drafting committee wrote a draft revision of the framework, however the process was halted by the economic crisis.  All funds were withdrawn.
Now, in response to legislation, the work of this committee has been revised.  An initial draft was prepared and sent out for comment with little notification to the public.  The CDE says that a field review has been done, however comments can still be submitted. The draft is substantially inadequate. The next step is for the drafting committee to come up with a report based upon the field review.  The Democracy and Education Institute can provide  details.   It is urgent that community members and scholars participate in this drafting process.  Hearings are scheduled for May 5/6, and adoption currently is scheduled for Fall 2015.
We invite you individually and in appropriate organizations to join together in a campaign to  gain substantive input and revision of the California History/Social Science framework.  Organizational participation will be helpful.  We need up to ten people willing to read the draft carefully and to recommend improvements.  Teachers, scholars, and community members are particularly needed.
Here is how to write a letter and to send it. https://sites.google.com/site/democracyandeducationorg/Home/latino-students-and-civic-engagement/project-plan---mexican-american-history
As a professor of  history/social studies methods of teaching and of bilingual multicultural education at CSU-Sacramento for over 35 years,  I am informed in the processes we may use.  Additional allies will provide material for a realistic and accurate history of Mexican Americans / Latinos in California.
We need your participation to develop an effective  strategy for changing the textbooks to achieve accuracy about the role of Mexican Americans in California history. Key dates include May 6/7 for hearings in Sacramento and Fall  2015 for hearings in front of the State Board of Education.
The proposed draft  framework is here.
Sources of  more information include:

For information packet and ideas e mail  the Democracy and Education Institute.

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