There may soon be a Mexican-American Studies class in Texas public schools, where Hispanics make up a majority of students.
The state board of education voted to ask publishers to submit textbooks for a Mexican-American studies class by the 2016-2017 school year, along with materials for African-American studies, Native-American studies and Asian-American studies. It's a major step toward the state including the classes in the public school system.
Advocates who pushed for the Mexican-American studies program say it will help students develop a deeper understanding and cultural awareness of their state. It may even boost Hispanic student achievement, they say.
In this video of a local news report on the proposal, students speak out about why the course is necessary:
Opponents argue that they are concerned the class would be divisive.
"We're all Americans," David Bradley, a Republican board member from Beaumont, told the Associated Press. To suggest otherwise is to further segregate and divide the community," he said. "I'm sorry if I disappoint some folks, but it's almost reverse racism."
Students Don't 'See Themselves' in the Textbooks
The graduation rate for Hispanic students was 84.3 percent in 2012, which is lower than the 93 percent rate for non-Hispanic white students, the Texas Education Agency reports.
This disparity exists even though the Hispanic student population is rapidly growing in the school system, according to the TEA.
"Students are not seeing themselves reflected positively in the textbooks,"Juan Tejeda, an instructor of Music and Mexican-American Studies at Palo Alto College in San Antonio, told Huffpo. "If the schools are making you feel bad about who you are, you're not going to be able to succeed."