Mexican Americans will be left out – again. When the teachers and the profession gets around to writing Common Core Standards in History and Social Studies we can anticipate that they will again fail to include Mexican American history. How do we know this?
Major discussions in education circles now focus on Common Core Standards which are an attempt to get some agreements on what level of achievement all states can expect from their students. Until now, all such standards were in the states. There was no national common core. ( See ASCD)
Common core standards have been established in Math and Literacy and are producing major changes in curriculum across the nation. There are no Common Core standards in History or Social Studies. In these disciplines we continue to have state standards only.
History standards in Texas, Arizona, and California, among others, lack the inclusion of even the most minimal history of Mexican American people. In California the state standards are based upon the state History/Social Science Framework which was drafted in 1986 and is nearly totally devoid of Mexican American History. (Campbell ,2012)
Mexican American have been left out up to this date (2013), and the history profession has less diversity and less inclusion in their course work than they did in the 1990s. Ethnic studies and Mexican American history has less influence. We can therefore predict that when committees get together they will continue the practices of the past- that is exclusion.
Lets look at California. California has the largest population of any state, with more than 6,191,000 students in school in 2009.Latino students make up over 3,191, 000 students or more than 50 of the total (CDE, 2010) and Latinos make up more than 22% of the state legislature. Certainly these Latinos came from somewhere. They too have a history. California students make up more than 11 percent of the United States total.
California Standards and Frameworks are products of the people who make the decisions. Frameworks like standards pick winners and losers; the choices which scholars and “ professional committees” make favor one group over another group- choices are based upon the political power of those represented on the committees.
The dominant Anglo centered neo conservative view of history argues that textbooks and a common history should provide the glue that unites our society. Historical themes and interpretations are selected in books to create unity in a diverse and divided society, a unity from the point of view of historians from the dominant culture and class. Historians advocating unity and claiming a consensus write textbooks that downplay the roles of slavery, class, racism, genocide, manifest destiny and imperialism. They focus on ethnicity and assimilation rather than race, on the success of achieving political reform, representative government, and economic opportunity for European American immigrants.
These partial and incomplete histories do not validate the experiences of students from our diverse cultural communities. By recounting primarily a consensual, European American view, history and literature extend and reconstruct current white supremacy, sexism, and class biases in our society (Campbell, 2010). When texts or teachers tell only part of the story, schools foster intellectual colonialism and ideological domination (Cornbleth & Waugh, 1995).
When the Latino and Asian students do not see themselves as part of history, their sense of self can be marginalized. Marginalization in turn negatively impacts their connections with school and their success at school. It contributes to an over 50% drop out rate for Latinos and some recent immigrant Asian students. An accurate history could provide some of these students with a sense of self, of direction, of purpose. History and social studies classes should help young people acquire and learn to use the skills, knowledge, and attitudes that will prepare them to be competent and responsible citizens. Instead, the current history textbooks too often tell a fairy tale of what happened here in the Southwest.
At present this writer knows of no efforts to change the current standards and thus to effect the future common core standards. Without some decisive turn around, the nation and its history teachers will once again develop and impose a new colonized view of history.
As Frederick Douglas said well, “ Power concedes nothing without demand, it never has, and it never will.”
Our response is to create this Chicano/Mexican American Digital History project to create a platform for teachers and others to organize a responsible, inclusive view of history.
Duane Campbell. Jan. 2013.