Sometimes, I get a chance to speak at important moments in efforts and movements - today is no different. Today, I sacrifice - my wife is about to undergo surgery tomorrow and I still have to prep the house for her recovery and yet, I find myself at the State Board of Education of Texas to discuss the need for Mexican American Studies - here is what I had to tell them:
Statement to the TX State Board of Education –
Education for All
Good afternoon, buenas tardes, boa tarde – my name is Guadalupe Mendez, an educator from Houston, TX. I come here with a simple message – a request in fact, one I hope does not fall on deaf ears. I ask, implore, beseech you to consider and vote yes to the creation of Mexican American Studies in the form of a statewide effort. It is not enough that school districts be allowed to implement local programs, what carries weight is the creation of a statewide curriculum that school districts can work with. It is vital that it be done, in order to address the rise of new majority. It is not a new concept – over 51% of school students are from Spanish speaking origins and something must be done to meet them in their educational track. It is not enough to create programs and systems to regroup latino drop out rates back into schools. It is not enough to provide dual language programs with luke-warm connections with literature. Something substantial must be done to make sure that the now majority in Texas public schools – make it to and through high school graduation and into college.
As a elementary and secondary school teacher, I have seen many students disconnect, disassociate, and feel disarmed from not knowing their own background and the extended background of Texas History. Make no mistake, I do not want a supplanted education that only speaks of some random history of Mexico – I want an additive history, that talks about the whole picture – one that shows the roots of this state and the southwest part of this nation as a whole. As Mrs. Cargill noted her self, in a graduation ceremony commencement speech for inmates “education serves as a stepping stone and lays a strong foundation to give them hope for the future no matter where they are.” Can’t the “them” she refer to be not only inmates earning a GED, but our Hispanic children, making their own moves in the bigger context of American? Don’t our students, all students, Hispanic and otherwise deserve a chance to pick the classes they want? Equality is a far reaching, far moving tool. If our prisoners can have a chance at a strong foundation, don’t our children deserve the same? Please, vote your conscience, and say yes to Mexican American Studies. It is a door ready to be opened that allows a new chapter to be read and studied. It is a beautiful history and reaches across cultures and across the state.
I thank you for your time. Mil Gracias.