Historic Record Delegation advocates Hispanic representation in history texts - Brownsville Herald: Education

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Historic Record Delegation advocates Hispanic representation in history texts

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Posted: Friday, July 19, 2002 12:00 am

By Adriana Garcia

The Brownsville Herald

A delegation of local students and teachers made a plea Wednesday for

representation of Hispanics in history textbooks used by the states public

schools.

Eight speakers from the University of Texas at Brownsville and Texas Southmost

College stood before a Texas State Board of Education public hearing and

voiced concerns that minorities specifically Hispanics are

underrepresented in public school history books.

The effort, organized by Manuel Medrano, a social sciences professor at

UTB-TSC, brought about 50 students to Austin to speak at and observe the

proceedings.

Maricela Flores, a UTB-TSC student, was the first to speak. She recounted an

experience she had while reading to a group of fifth-graders in Pittsburgh,

Pa.

When they first saw her, she said, they curiously inspected her olive skin and

dark hair. She believes that she was the first Hispanic they had seen and was

sure they knew little if anything about her culture.

The experience opened her eyes to the importance of teaching children about

different people and what they contribute to our small world, she said.

In a world that is increasingly shrinking, it is important for our students

to be aware and knowledgeable of local, national and global communities,

Flores said.

Lupita Ramirez is also a student at the university and a mother. She addressed

the board with her family in mind. Ramirez said she wanted to break the cycle

of underrepresentation of Hispanics in textbooks.

I come to you as a mother, she said. Give my child the best education.

The board members thanked Medrano and the group for making the six-hour bus

trip to Austin and applauded their effort.

Board member and Corpus Christi attorney Mary Helen Berlanga said the

Brownsville speakers made the hearing the best public hearing I ever attended

in all my years on the Board of Education.

Berlanga has been a board member since 1983.

Maggie Garza, a senior at UTB, didnt speak at Wednesdays hearing, but hopes

to comment at future hearings.

Maybe I can change something, Garza said. Maybe I can help something.

The board will hold two more public hearings in August and September before

compiling an approved list of history textbooks for all grade levels. Each

Texas school district is required to select its textbooks from that list.

Only one history book used by the Brownsville Independent School District has

a new edition on the proposed textbook list the seventh-grade level Texas

and Texans published by Glencoe/McGraw-Hill.

If the textbook is selected, Texas history teacher William Esparza likely

would employ it in his seventh-grade classes at Oliveira Middle School.

Youve got to remember the Hispanics also, Esparza said of the effort to

include more minorities in history lessons, adding, Were going to be the

majority soon.

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