Our goal is to create an on-line history collection of Chicano / Mexican American
We encourage participation and contributions by others based upon the model established by the Farmworker Movement documentation project. See example. http://www.farmworkermovement.us/
The project has begun to assemble and to create a digital history of Chicano and Mexican American history and activism in the Sacramento region 1940 – present. We will collect, write, and post this history so that it is not lost nor discarded. We will make this history available to teachers to balance the lack of Chicano history in the public schools and universities.
Howard Zinn. (1990.) Declarations of Independence. Cross Examining American Ideology.
History is always subjective.
All historians have points of view. The point of view or perspective of the historian guides what they select to include in history and what they select to leave out.
Why This effort ?
We, activists of the Democracy and Education Institute, tried to change the state textbooks and curriculum to include Chicano/Mexican American history in 2008-2009. Because of the decisions of the Governor’s office in 2009, we were unable to make a change. We have developed this history web site to offer teachers, students and others a more complete, a more accurate history.
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 It is substantially out of date.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 since 1986. 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 (then) 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.
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.
Further description of this issue is in the post, “Why California Students do not know Chicano History.”