SBOE approves first ethnic studies material

The State Board of Education in November approved the first state-adopted instructional material for use in an ethnic studies course.

 A Holocaust memoir called Surviving the Angel of Death: The True Story of a Mengele Twin at Auschwitz won the board’s approval.  This book will be available for use in Texas classrooms beginning in fall 2018.

It was one of only two submissions received under Proclamation 2018, which is the formal document calling for submissions. The second submission, The Mexican American Studies Toolkit, was not approved by the board.

The board first called for instructional materials that could be used in ethnic studies classes in Proclamation 2017, which was issued in November 2015. Only one book was submitted, and it was rejected by the board in November 2016.

Board members were told at that time that high-quality textbooks were already available in the open market for Mexican American Studies so they took the unusual step of calling for ethnic studies instructional material for a second year in a row. This call included ethnic studies in, but not limited to, Mexican American Studies, African American Studies, Asian American Studies, and Native American Studies.

Ultimately, however, the call resulted in only the two submissions under Proclamation 2018. Copies of the two products can be viewed on the TEA website.

“Every child in our schools has a place in our unfolding American story,” said SBOE Chair Donna Bahorich.

“As such, it is the intention of this board to develop a specific course on ethnic studies in the near future. We will call for materials based on specific expectations at that time. With this greater clarity, we hope to attract multiple publishers to the table to submit high-quality materials for our students,” she said.

In the meantime, districts may continue to teach this one-semester elective course as an innovative course or under one of two courses based on broad and general Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills. Those courses are Special Topics in Social Studies and Independent Study in English. Districts may use their instructional materials allotment to purchase textbooks and other instructional material that may not be on the list of adopted instructional materials from the open market.