The Hyphen in Mexican-American Studies Debate

Apr 15, 2018 by

“The Hyphen in Mexican-American Studies Debate”

By Donna Garner





[COMMENTS FROM DONNA GARNER:  Without question, ethnic studies create division, hatred, and bitterness among students toward each other.  One summer I taught English II in summer school; most of my students were either Black or Hispanic. My classroom was in a portable building outside the main building. The curriculum director had provided ethnic studies types of curriculum materials for the students thinking that they could relate to them better…foolish curriculum director!



I, being White, became the instant enemy. The story selections were filled with jargon, epithets, violence, lewd descriptions, violence, sexuality, victimization — all selected deliberately to inflame students by emphasizing Whites as the “evil doers,” “the Chicano killers,” the perpetrators of “White privilege” and “Black bondage.”  The races and ethnicities of the characters in the stories were emphasized, and the authors never seemed to weave into their plots the important concepts of personal responsibility and natural consequences.



Soon, the hatred and resentment built up in that classroom toward anyone who was White. No respect was shown for me as the teacher; and worse yet, the students showed no respect for one another. The blame game seemed to take over. The classroom became a tinderbox of explosive tempers because students began to feel it was their “right” to accuse one another, to vent their rage, and to emulate the characters in the books.



Because the classroom was in a rather isolated area in back of the main school building, I even became fearful for the safety of all of my students and for myself. 



I never forgot this experience, and it was enough to show me up-close-and-personal what such biased, obviously anti-American, “Chicano killers/White privilege/Black bondage” curriculum would do in a classroom.



Students are indeed influenced by what they study in school; and authors with a political, ideological bias to create division and hatred among groups of people must not be allowed to use students as their “tools.”]




“Hyphen is not real enemy in the ‘Mexican-American’ debate”



Excerpts from this article:


The same State Board of Education member who called critical thinking instruction “gobbledygook” years ago now is warning against another insidious foe:


The hyphen.


Yes, that little slip of a punctuation mark can seem so innocent. In the eyes of David Bradley and some other far-right activists, however, the unifier of two words is really a divider of us all.


Its corrosiveness is especially threatening when it’s nestled between the words “Mexican” and “American.”

At least, that was the Beaumont Republican’s chief objection to the title of a proposed social studies course, being considered by the state  board, called “Mexican-American Studies,” or MAS.


“I find hyphenated Americanism to be divisive,” Bradley said, seeming to echo an online post by a far right

education activist penned days earlier.


“Hyphenated-American courses further divide students and faculty,” Donna Garner wrote. “And America

is already seeing what these ethnic studies courses are doing to create hatred, bitterness and strife among

our college and university students. We Texans do not want that same type of racial/ divisive hatred,

bitterness and strife to run rampant in our K-12 public schools.”


Actually, racism and hatred come from ignorance and fear – not education. The “strife” on college

campuses seems to be caused not by the thoughtful study of the full spectrum of people, ideas and events

that contribute to the American story, but by those who want to write it out of the history books. And

studies have shown that MAS courses in public schools actually improve academic performance, not hurt



[COMMENTS FROM DONNA GARNER:  By all accounts from “people on the street” reporting and from national tests, students throughout America know incredibly little about our Founding Fathers, the Constitution, the Rule of Law, the Bill of Rights, primary historical documents, and classic literary works that have connected generations of Americans through the centuries.  It is this basic knowledge that helps all Americans to understand, value,  and take pride in American Exceptionalism.



I doubt very seriously that this “supposed” research that MAS supporters continue to reference can prove (if it exists at all) that the MAS classes themselves were the causal factor in improving academic performance.  For any research to be taken seriously, it has to prove that one certain thing is the “causal factor”;  or else the conclusion of the research is invalid.]  



Nevertheless, Bradley, realizing the inevitability of the course itself becoming a reality in a state with a

burgeoning Latino population, did the only thing he could to blunt the impact. He offered up an

alternative title, which was accepted when the board approved the course Friday: “Ethnic Studies, An

Overview of Americans of Mexican Descent.”


That’s the title, at least for now. Board members agreed to accept public feedback. And it’s already



Activists and scholars, who are glad they succeeded in getting the board to issue standards for the course

after four years of trying, say the new title has sparked a fresh battle to restore the original one.


…Now, the board has reversed course, and the first reading of the standards [TEKS – Texas’ curriculum standards] is expected this summer.


[COMMENTS FROM DONNA GARNER:  Lisa Falkenberg, the Houston Chronicle journalist who wrote this article, never once tells the public about the K-12 Social Studies TEKS adopted by the elected members of the Texas SBOE.  Texas’ Social Studies TEKS are the most patriotic, fact-based Social Studies curriculum standards in the entire United States.


These TEKS include huge numbers of noteworthy heroes/heroines from all races/ethnicities who have helped to make America great. Texas does not need separate classes in ethnic studies which would steal valuable time away from the time-honored study of American and World History. What we need is for all Texas public school teachers to teach and for all Texas public school students to learn what is found in these Social Studies TEKS: ]


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4.11.18 — “Two Motions Passed by the Texas State Board of Education, Opening the Door to Ethnic Studies Courses” — By Donna Garner – —

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