Keep Cesar Chavez in Texas textbooks, UFW urges

cesar chavez

The United Farm Workers of America is urging supporters to stop the Texas state Board of Education from eliminating Cesar Chavez and other historic Latino leaders from public school textbooks.

This struggle is a lesson about doing the right thing and about standing up for others who are oppressed, Latino advocates and civil rights leaders charge.

On Jan. 13, the state board will take a preliminary vote to adopt new standards for social studies textbooks, known as the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills curriculum. The statewide debate takes place every 10 years. Once adopted, the new standards will affect grades K-12, more than 4 million students across Texas, for the next decade.

The new standards recommend eliminating notable Latino leaders since the conquest of Mexico in the early 16th Century, including Chavez, says the UFW.

Cesar Chavez was the founder of UFW and is arguably one of the most important Mexican American civil rights leaders of the 20th Century. His work not only led to major labor reforms for farm workers and their families in California, but also empowered a whole new generation of people to stand up for their rights and challenge the status quo in a peaceful and strategic manner, historians note.

According to UFW, Gail Lowe, chair of the board, who happens to be an outspoken creationist (someone who doesn't accept evolution), said Chavez "lacks the stature...and contributions" and should not "be held up to our children as someone worthy of emulation."

Irma Rangel, the first Latino woman elected to the state Legislature is also on the proposed chopping block. Other key history makers such as Thurgood Marshall and Albert Einstein are also included.

Board members and their appointees have reportedly complained about an "over representation of minorities" in the current social studies standards. Advisors to the board, many who are super conservative are questioning the historical value of teaching children in Texas about Chavez' life. Their verdict, critics say, has cast Chavez as inconsequential to American history despite the fact that his legacy strongly resonates with children in Texas who happen to be mostly Latino.

In recent years Latino children have made up a majority of those in classes throughout Texas. Critics say eliminating Latino leaders from their textbooks is ironic because Latinos will soon comprise the majority of all Texas public school students.

After Wednesday's public hearing, a vote could come as soon as Thursday. The final board vote is set for March.

Critics contend the board is controlled by a faction of social conservatives that have politicized standards in science and in language arts and are trying to do the same thing in social studies. The board's decision should be based on sound scholarship and not on personal political agendas, they add.

Republican Governor Rick Perry appointed Lowe and is standing by her and her controversial remarks. Critics argue some of the state's Republican leadership does not see it in their best interest to teach children about civil rights leaders who could inspire the African American and Latino communities there. Tactics used by Chavez such as fasting and civil disobedience, which were taught by Gandhi and also used by Martin Luther King Jr., could give school children ideas, they add. Critics claim the last thing Republicans want is to have a whole new generation of children who will grow up to stand up for their rights, hold vigils and organize workers.

For example Delores M. Bernal, writing on the website News Junkie Post said, "The big lesson that will turn out from this debate is at the end of the day if they manage to ban Chavez from textbooks, it would prove that Texas' politicians - the Perrys, Bushes, and Lowes - are not the cowboys they think they are, but a bunch of cowards wearing hats and boots; white folks who are too scared of the brown people and what they may do."

Bernal continues, "Their approach is the same old colonialism, to assimilate the 'savages,' but keep them ignorant." Texas conservatives may take Chavez out of the classroom, she writes, "but they can't take him out of the hearts of the parents who will find ways to teach their kids about him, and more importantly, teach them to stand up for justice and do the right thing."

The UFW is urging supports nationwide to take action at, and send board chair Lowe and the Texas state board an email demanding they not revise history by banning Chavez and others from textbooks.

Photo: CC


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  • Can you smell the smoke? it is from the fire started to burn the books containing valuable history, the history of a man who is of inmense value not only to the Latino community, but to the working class as a whole, this was a man who stood for workers rights and he is an inspiration to oppressed workers everywere. Cesar Chavez, but i guess the Texas board of education does not see hte relevance of such matters and prefers to keep our children and future generations ignorant to the accomplishments that the minorities have had on history

    What if they tried to take Abraham Lincoln from the textbooks? The average American would never allow that to happen, so why should this man be any less important? It is just proof that the education system is controlled by a people with no connection to our culture, and this lack of representation is leading to our future being overshdowed with ignorance, we MUST NOT allow this to happen KEEP Cesar Chavez in our texbooks and in our schools, for the loss of such battle means the loss of democracy, for we the people should have a voice in what is taught in our schools.

    Posted by Brandon Berrios, 01/12/2010 10:34am (6 years ago)

  • "Farm workers rights
    were lifted to new heights
    by a brown man"
    So sings the African American genius Stevie Wonder-teaching an inter-generation of the past,present and future of working people's struggles.
    A country built on merging and converging working people's internationalism is destine to magnificent achievements.
    Such is the destiny of these United States of America.
    Who is he singing of? None other than the magnificent Caesar Chavez.
    In the present census of 2010,the peopling of the United States with working-class Latinos must be celebrated and integrated and counted into the monumental struggles of the advanced working-class and the communists,to aggressively promote the democratic and human rights of Latinos in the United States especially,but in all the Latin and Bolivian Americas as the most progressive international law allows,to secure worker's international democracy, human and labor rights.
    In this way not only do we protect the history of the working-class,but the current struggles.
    These struggles determine the future relationships of power and money for the working-class in a crucial way.
    These struggles determine the ground rules for trade treaties and agreements,which must be tilted toward the welfare of the working-class if humanity is to survive.
    We must have a new economy and a new freedom of association,press,religion and protest if humanity is to survive. This new "Bill of Rights" must guarantee economic rights for youth and elderly,of the entire multi-national working-class.
    People like brothers Chavez and Wonder have pointed the way.

    Posted by E.E.W. Clay, 01/11/2010 10:31pm (6 years ago)

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