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Why California students do not know Chicano History

Writing Chicano/Latino History Into California Textbooks 2016.

By Duane Campbell

On July 14, 2016 We Won !

History and social science textbooks in public schools in California and most of the nation are racist, class-biased, and ignore LGBT history. This condition will change in California in 2017 when new textbooks are adopted.

Under a unanimous  decision by the California Board of Education  made on July 14, 2016 , California students will finally be encouraged to know the history of Latino civil rights leaders like Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta and Filipino labor leaders like Larry Itliong, as well as an accurate and inclusive history of LGBT activists  as a part of the history of California and the nation. These topics are currently substantially absent from public school textbooks in the nation.

The  California State Board of Education decided to include these long- ignored histories in their re-writing of the History/Social Science Framework for the state.  The Framework  document sets the parameters and the minimums required of textbooks used  in the schools.  Because of California’s large size and market, what goes into California textbooks  frequently also gets written into textbooks around the nation.

 

In the current books, when the 51%  of students who are Latino, the 11.5% who are Asian, and the estimated 11% of students who are LGBT, do not see themselves as part of history, for many their sense of self is  marginalized.   As I argued in a prior book, marginalization negatively impacts their connections with school and their success at school. This has resulted in a nearly 50% dropout rate for Latinos and some Asian groups  and LGBT  students.. School marginalization also contributes directly to low-level civic engagement.  An accurate history would provide some of these  students with a  a sense of self, of direction, of purpose. History and social science 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 throughout their lives.  

 

 As a consequence of the current  outdated history texts for California public schools, most schools, most teachers,  fail to teach an accurate, complete, complex  history of the Chicano- Latino people, of Asian Americans and of LGBT youth, among others.   This essentially means that the writers are choosing not to recognize reality. – not to tell the full story. 

And, while California and the nation have a general problem with low civic engagement among young people,  it is also true that the state  has  a very specific problem with the rate of Latino and Asian voter participation in  civic life.

Rates of voting and voter registration provide a window into civic engagement.  The proportion of state voter registration that is Latino and Asian has remained far below the proportions of these groups in the state’s overall population. In 2010, Latinos in the state made up 37.6% of the general population while they were only 21.2 % of the registered voters. The Asian population was 13.1 % of the state population but only 8.1 % of the registered voters.

We know that we can do better.   California has the largest school population of any state, with more than 6,226,000 students in school in 2015, more than 11% of the United States total. California, along with some 16 other states, adopts textbooks for use by the entire state instead of purchasing books district by district. This makes the California textbook adoption the largest single textbook sale in the nation. Many publishers write and edit their books in a targeted attempt to win a piece of the large and lucrative California and Texas markets.  In recent years, as Republicans gained control of state governments, Texas, Arizona and  several other  southern states have moved their textbook histories sharply to the right.

The 1980’s were the age of Ronald Reagan.  As Governor of California he appointed members of the State Board of Education.  His influence continued long after he became president of the U.S. The view of history that won the textbook battles in California in 1987  was crafted by  (then) neoconservative historian Diane Ravitch  and former California State Superintendent of Public Instruction Bill Honig.

 

The 1987 Framework for History and the Social Sciences  is  still in use today, with minimal modifications.  It   expanded African American, Native American and white women’s history coverage but remained  totally inadequate in the coverage of Latinos and Asians. The only significant change between the 1987 version and the currently adopted Framework was the addition of a new cover, a cover letter, and photos of figures such as Cesar Chavez .  Advocates term this “Photoshop curriculum reform.”

 

The then-dominant neo-conservative view  of history argued  that textbooks and a common history should provide the glue that unites our diverse and divided society, a unity from the point of view of the dominant class.  Schools – especially their history, social science and literature curricula - were assigned the task of creating a common culture and of accepting the current unequal political/ economic system as democratic. (In reality, television, mass media, and  military service may do more to create a common culture than do schools and books.)

 

As scholars such as Michael Apple and J.W. Loewen have well argued, historians promoting consensus write textbooks that downplay the roles of slavery, class, racism, sexism, genocide, and imperialism in our history. They focus on ethnicity and assimilation rather than race and on the success of achieving political reform for the white majority through representative government and economic opportunity for European American workers and immigrants. They decline to notice the high poverty rate of U.S. school children, the crisis of urban schooling, and the continuation of racial divisions in housing and the labor force. In California they declined to notice that Mexicans, Mexican-Americans and Latinos as well as Asians contributed to the development of this society and that they have become a near majority of the residents. This consensual, European American view of history and literature reinforces current white supremacy, sexism, and class biases in our society, fostering intellectual colonialism and ideological domination.

 

 

This conservative consensus dominated textbook publishing in California until now. But based upon the changes we made in the new 2016  document. students will now  not only read the conservative view, they will also read material on topics such as the following that are included in the new Framework:

 

Students may study how Cesar Chavez, Dolores Huerta, and the United Farm Workers’ movement used nonviolent tactics, educated the general public about the working conditions in agriculture, and worked to improve the lives of farmworkers. Students should understand the central role of immigrants, including Latino Americans and Filipino Americans, in the farm labor movement. This context also fueled the brown, red, and yellow power movements. The manifestos, declarations, and proclamations of the movements challenged the political, economic, and social discriminations faced by their groups. They also sought to combat the consequences of their “second-class citizenship” by engaging in grassroots mobilization.

 

For example, from 1969 through 1971 American Indian activists occupied Alcatraz Island; while in 1972 and 1973, American Indian Movement (AIM) activists took over the Bureau of Indian Affairs building in Washington, D.C. and held a stand-off at Wounded Knee, South Dakota. Meanwhile, Chicano/a activists staged protests around the country, like the famed Chicano Moratorium in Los Angeles in 1970 that protested the war in Vietnam, and formed a number of organizations to address economic and social inequalities as well as police brutality, and energized cultural pride. Students should learn about the emergence and trajectory of the Chicano civil rights movement by focusing on key groups, events, documents such as the 1968 walkout or “blowout” by approximately 15,000 high school students in East Los Angeles to advocate for improved educational opportunities and protest against racial discrimination; the El Plan de Aztlan, which called for the decolonization of the Mexican American people; El Plan de Santa Barbara, which called for the establishment of Chicano studies; the formation of the Chicano La Raza Unida Party, which sought to challenge mainstream political parties; and Rodolfo “Corky” Gonzelez’s “I am Joaquin,” which underscores the struggles for economic and social justice. California activists like Harvey Milk and Cleve Jones were part of a broader movement that emerged in the aftermath of the Stonewall riots, which brought a new attention to the cause of equal rights for homosexual Americans.

(Page 562, lines 1204- 1214, Feb. draft, as adopted.)

 

Organizing Matters

I have spent more than six years working on this project-and it was well worth it. The important changes we achieved were produced by years of collective advocacy, lobbying, letter writing and organizing.  After being blocked in our efforts in 2008,  we created the Mexican American Digital History site (www.MexicanAmericanDigitalHistory.org), then organized a statewide network of scholars and community activists to pressure the State Board of Education.   At each stage we had to explain why this tedious process of changing the Framework  was important.  We received assistance from civil rights groups and Latinos in the Democratic Party.  Similar and parallel campaigns were organized within the  Filipino,  Hmong, South Asian, and LGBT communities.

Interestingly, we received no help from directly impacted professional  organizations such as the California Council for Social Studies (teachers)  nor from  academics in university history departments. History and social science departments in colleges and universities that prepare teachers will now have to find  faculty prepared to assist  future teachers to  understand and to present this “new” material.

 

The next steps will be to monitor the adoption of new textbooks, to be certain they respond to the new Framework as amended.

I would be happy to work with scholars and activists in other states and districts  seeking to revise their  textbooks to be more accurate and  inclusive.

Duane Campbell is a professor emeritus of bilingual multicultural education at California State University Sacramento, author of several books including Choosing Democracy: a Practical Guide to Multicultural Education, a union activist, and past chair of Sacramento DSA.

  


Why California Students Do Not Know Chicano/Latino history.  1987-2016.

By Duane Campbell

Textbooks for  California schools are selected by the State Board of Education based upon recommendations of their Curriculum Committees and the state frameworks and standards.  It is urgent that the History-Social Science Framework be revised to provide an accurate history of the contributions of Mexicans, Mexican Americans, Latinos and Asians to the history of the state and of the nation. The current Framework reflects the historiography of the 1950’s. It was written in 1986 by senior scholars, they in turn were educated in the early 1970’s or before. It is substantially out of date. 

 Standards and frameworks are products of the people who make the decisions. Frameworks like  standards pick winners and losers;  the choices which committees make favor one group over another group- choices are based upon the political power of those represented on the committees.  The Framework is  supposed to be revised each 7 years but it has not been revised.  The current Framework reflects the historiography  of the 1970’s  and the political balance of power of the 1980’s.

 During the winter and spring of 2009, a committee of teachers and other educators appointed by the State Board of Education met to review the current History-Social Science Curriculum Framework and to recommend revisions.  The committee met in a series of two-day public sessions  which were well attended by professionals and civic advocates concerned about the content of history and social studies education in California.

            A new draft Framework was prepared based upon the work of the committee- but the state budget crisis prevented  the required review, revision, and adoption.   In 2010, Governor Schwarzenegger vetoed $144, 000 that was to be used by the Curriculum Commission to complete the adoption process and a legislative effort to fund the review (SB 1278) was held  in committee.  Consequently, the 1987 Framework remains in effect as the policy guidelines for the state.  

The current Framework was written in 1986 and published in 1987 after a great deal of controversy. The Framework is  supposed to be revised each 7 years. The Framework, along with the standards, provides the guidelines for what is to be taught and what is to be included in the history and social science textbooks in California. In 2009, the History /Social Science Framework was  up for re consideration but the process was halted by the budget crisis.

 California has the largest population of any state, with more than 6,252,000 students  in school in 2008.   California students make up more than 11 percent of the United States total. California, along with some 16 other states, adopts textbooks for the entire state instead of district by district purchasing. This makes the California adoption the largest single textbook sale in the nation. Gaining   this market is an important goal for textbook publishers. Many publishers write and edit their books in a targeted attempt to win control of the large and  lucrative California and Texas markets.   Publishers promote and try to sell books developed in California and Texas throughout the nation in an effort to increase their profits. 

 The 1980’s were the age of Ronald Reagan.  As Governor he appointed members of the State Board of Education.  His influence continued long after he became President of the U.S. The view of history that won the battle  in California in 1987  was crafted by neoconservative historian Diane Ravitch and supported by Paul Gagnon and former California State Superintendent of Public Instruction Bill Honig, among others (Cornbleth & Waugh, 1995).

The 1987 Framework still in use today  expanded African American, Native American, and women’s history coverage but remains totally inadequate in the coverage of Latinos and Asians. The only significant change between the 1985 and the 2005 adopted Framework was the addition of a new cover, a cover letter, and additions of photos such as of Cesar Chavez . Latinos currently make up 48.1 percent of California’s student population and Asians make up 8.1 %. 

The dominant 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 the dominant class.  This viewpoint assigns to schools the task of creating a common culture. In reality, television and military service may do more to create a common culture than do schools and books.

Conservatives assign the task of cultural assimilation to schools, with particular emphasis on the history, social science, and literature curricula. Historians advocating consensus write textbooks that downplay the roles of slavery, class, racism, genocide, and imperialism in our history. They focus on ethnicity and assimilation rather than race, on the success of achieving political reform, representative government, and economic opportunity for European American workers and immigrants. They decline to notice the high poverty rate of U.S. children, the crisis of urban schooling, and the continuation of racial divisions in housing and the labor force. In California they decline to notice that Mexicans, Mexican-Americans and Latinos as well as Asians contributed to the development of this society.

This consensus conservative viewpoint history dominates textbook publishing in California , but these partial and incomplete histories do not empower 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. When texts or teachers tell only part of the story, schools foster intellectual colonialism and ideological domination (Cornbleth & Waugh, 1995).

 

       When the 48.72 % of students who are Latino , and the 11.5 % who are Asian do not see themselves as part of history,  for many their sense of self is marginalized.   Marginalization negatively impacts their connections with school and their success at school.  It contributes to an over 50% drop out rate for Latinos and some Asian students.  An accurate history  would provide some students with a  a sense of self, of direction,  of purpose. History and social science  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 throughout their lives.   Instead, the current history textbooks tell a fairy tale of what happened here in the Southwest.

  In 1995, the author James Loewen described what students learn about history,  “High school students hate history. Whey they list their favorite subjects, history invariably comes in last. Students consider history the most irrelevant of the 21 subjects commonly taught in high school.

Bor-r-ring is the adjective they apply to it.  When students can, they avoid it even though most students get higher grades than in math, science, or English.  Even when they are forced to take classes in history, they repress what they learn so every year or two another study decries what the seventeen year olds don’t know.

African American, Native American, and Latino students view history with a special dislike.  They also learn history especially poorly.  Students of color do only slightly worse than white students in mathematics.  If you’ll pardon my grammar, non white students do more worse in English and most worse in history. “  Lies My Teacher Told me.  P. 1. (1995.)

      As a consequence of the  outdated Framework, most schools fail to teach an accurate, complete, history of the Chicano- Latino people and of Asian Americans.  This essentially means that the writers are choosing not to recognize reality. – not to tell the full story.  This  a problem created  in part by the failure to revise the history/social science framework.

Textbooks for  California schools are selected by the State Board of Education based upon recommendations of their Curriculum Committees and the state frameworks and standards.  It is urgent that the History-Social Science Framework be revised to provide an accurate history of the contributions of Mexicans, Mexican Americans, Latinos and Asians to the history of the state and of the nation.

After providing testimony, and encouraging others to testify, I can report that the draft of the Framework for Grades 8 and 11 ( U.S. History) now included substantially improved coverage of the  Chicano/Mexicano experience.  Testimony was given by BMED Graduate Martin Ramirez and  Dr. Lorena Marquez. For complete text see page; Why California Students do not understand Chicano/Latino history. 

      For this reason, further work on the frameworks for history-social science, science, health, and mathematics has been stopped. On July 17, 2009, the Curriculum Development and Supplemental Materials Commission (Curriculum Commission) approved the draft update of the History-Social Science Framework for California Public Schools for field review. The draft framework has been posted on the CDE Web page at http://www.cde.ca.gov/ci/hs/cf/, but the actual field review and online survey will not occur at this time. For more information go to the Curriculum Frameworks and Instructional Materials Web page at http://www.cde.ca.gov/ci/cr/cf/index.asp.

 

      When  students do not seem themselves as a part of history, their sense of self is limited.

    Marginalization negatively impacts their connections with school and their success at school. It Disempowers.

      Accurate history provides a sense of self, of direction, of purpose.

       Lack of history of self, does not commit students to democratic participation in the society.

       An outline of Latino history is in my book, and on my web site along with lesson plans.  I urge you teachers to teach your students the truth- Yes, come inconvenient truths, not just myths.  For example, if a person is going to understand our  society and the economy, they need to understand immigration.   The history of Chicano/Mexicano people in California exists – but it was ignored by the writers of the  current State Framework.


For readers who worked on the effort to pass the Ethnic Studies bill. AB 101. Note that what the governor said in his veto message was, the best place to achieve the goals of AB 101 is to direct changes to the HSS Framework.  La lucha sigue !

 

Paso a paso.

See the update.   https://sites.google.com/site/democracyandeducationorg/Home/latino-students-and-civic-engagement

See update. April 2015.   https://sites.google.com/site/democracyandeducationorg/Home/latino-students-and-civic-engagement/project-plan---mexican-american-history


History 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 throughout their lives.

 

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