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Friday, April 20, 2018

The Anti-Mexico and Anti-Mexican Narrative is Tired and Wrong


In a study released from generally conservative SMU and its Texas-Mexico Center at Southern Methodist University, researchers find that “Far from taking jobs away from Texans, Mexicans are helping create additional employment opportunities, providing valuable labor for a growing economy and helping the deepening integration with Mexico.” (https://www.dallasnews.com/business/economy/2018/04/19/mexicans-help-create-not-take-jobs-away-texans-smu-study-says”.

In spite of the Trump rhetoric about the harms of Mexico and all things Mexican, “As many as 1 million jobs in Texas are attributed to trade with Mexico. GRUMA alone generates about 1,000 direct jobs and more than 4,500 indirect jobs in the north region.”

Additionally, the study calls for “freer immigration” across the border with Mexico. It is time the anti-Mexico narrative was relegated to the dustbin of racist history.  

CENSORING MEXICAN AMERICAN STUDIES IN TEXAS SCHOOLS IS NOT ONLY ETHNIC CLEANSING BUT ALSO CENSORSHIP AND MUFFLING OF THE FIRST AND FOURTEENTH AMENDMENTS by Felipe de Ortego y Gasca

There’s a nativist streak in the American psyche that emerges periodically to unravel the constitutional gains of American society, moving the nation more to the right—in a sort of dance macabre of the American national zeitgeist; in other words: something akin to an American Nazi Party (with the word “Nazi” being short for “National”). What has kept this Nazi zeitgeist at bay has been the vigilance of Americans working to create “a more perfect union,” committed to the preservation and process of democracy as articulated in the American Constitution.  What is little cogitated is that democracy is a process not a product.
That process has long held at bay inclusion of the real story of the American people, including those of color, starting with the story of Native Americans, then African Americans, and Mexican Americans. Other non-color groups have been given short shrift in the American Story as well. The real story of who we are as a nation has yet to be told, perhaps because it’s still an unfolding story. There’s little doubt that the American story today is not the same story as told by the French American writer J. Hector St. John de Crèvecœur in his 3rd Letter fro an American Farmer first published in 1782: he wrote, “they are a mixture of English, Scotch, Irish, French, Dutch, Germans, and Swedes. From this promiscuous breed, that race now called Americans have arisen.” He did not include Native Americans nor African Americans.
Censorship of the Mexican American story in American annals began long before 1848 when the United States dismembered Mexico as a booty of war (1846-1848), and per the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo of February 2, 1848 annexed more than half of Mexico in what is known as The Mexican Cession—a land mass more than the size of Spain, France and Italy combined (529,000 sq. miles) the third                                 The Mexican Cession          largest acquisition of territory in US history now constituting the states of Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, California, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, and pars of Wyoming, Kansas, and Oklahoma. That land-grab fulfilled the American dream of a nation from sea to shining sea. The flies in the ointment were the Mexicans—viewed as that vermin spawned by the Spaniards and the mongrel horde of Indian women—Mestizos as they came to be called but identified in the 20th century as La Raza Cosmica (the Cosmic People) by Jose Vasconcelos, the Mexican educator.
Arizona tried muzzling Mexican American Studies but the state’s foundation for that action was declared unconstitutional by a Federal Judge in Arizona on August 23, 2017 because Arizona’s ban of Mexican American Studies violated the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the American Constitution.  The judge concluded that racism was the animus propelling the Arizona ban of Mexican American Studies. 
In Texas, Governor Rick Perry railed that if things continued as they were Texas would have no other option than to secede from the Union—just like it did when it decided to join the Confederacy during the Civil War.
Secession is a mighty big gamble. It didn’t work the first time for segregationists and it won’t work this time for racists. In Texas, the Textbook Massacre is actuated by the mentality found in Arizona—“we know what belongs in the textbooks our kids read,” say white Texans.  Never mind that the majority of kids in Texas schools are Latinos and that their history ought to be represented in those textbooks—but isn’t. What are we to do when the governor of Texas thumbs his nose at public opinion and retorts that Texans know better? Where does that leave Tejanos? And when the governor threatens to secede from the Union if he doesn’t get his way, does he really think that Tejanos (Texas Latinos) will follow him like lemmings into that abyss of raging hyperbole? Na, na, na, na, na!
Ortego, Texas Textbook Massacre
This insanity has been going on for more than 20 years. Thirteen years ago in 2005 I made a presentation to the Texas State Board of Education (same Board, different folks) on “History and its Lacunae,” cautioning the Board not to go down the road it has finally wrong-headedly gone down. I explained how appalled I was by “the historical record in the American history textbooks which I have reviewed for this presentation and which are being considered for state adoption and use in Texas public schools, for nowhere in these texts is the story of American Hispanics fully told, particularly the story of Mexican Americans.” The Board did not listen then but has relented now except on the title for the Mexican American Study course. In real hegemonic fashion the Board deigns to know what is best for its subjects.
The Mexican American Study course is not about States’ Rights in regulating education per the 10th Amendment, it’s about the First Amendment: Censorship and Intellectual Freedom. White Texan Supremacists are trying to white-out (perhaps the better word is “whitewash”) anything that’s not white in the textbooks used in the Texas public schools. This sure smacks of censorship, especially in voiding the presence of Cesar Chavez in the social studies textbooks. Thurgood Marshall was also on the chopping block. 
Nevertheless, Val Benavides,  TFN Outreach and Field Director, posted:
Today we’re celebrating a historic vote at the State Board of Education: the creation of an elective course in Mexican American studies for Texas public schools. The board also voted to create a process for approving other ethnic studies courses in the future. 
These courses will help students across the state learn that the story of Texas and our nation includes the experiences and contributions of Mexican Americans and other people from diverse backgrounds. For too long those stories have been excluded from our classrooms. 
Let’s be clear: This victory came after years of tireless work by scholars and activists who educated the public and policymakers, rallied supporters, and testified and lobbied at the state board. They faced setbacks along the way, but they kept their eyes on the goal and demonstrated the power of grassroots activism to bring important change.
We at TFN have been proud to stand with and support these leaders and advocates. And we will work with them as the state board approves curriculum standards for Mexican American studies and other ethnic studies courses. 
        ¡Sí se puede!
It appears, however, that the Texas School Board sees the handwriting on the wall and while not capitulating entirely on this issue at this time, they’ve reserved the right to designate the title of the course—Americans of Mexican Descent, a throwback to the designation for Mexican Americans used by the Library of Congress 50 years ago. Here again, the white majority telling us who we are. But Dennis Bixler-Marquez, Director of Chicano Studies at UT-El Paso sees a glimmer of an unintended outcome in the decision of the Texas Board of Education’s approval of the Mexican American Study elective course when he said that the MAS course was not only for Mexican Americans (El Paso Times, 4/15/18, Borderlands, 1B/2B) but for everybody. Indeed, all Texans, nay, all Americans should know the Mexican American story. We should all know each other’s story—in their aggregate is the American story: immigrants and indigenous.
Juan Tejeda has it right:
Mexican American Studies and the historic vote and controversial decision to change the name of the MAS course by the Texas State Board of Education in CBS Austin below. The TXSBOE will be taking their final vote on this issue today in Austin. We are not hyphenated Americans. We are Native Americans. Mexican American Studies is an established Field of Study in Texas as authorized by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board. Call it what it is: a Mexican American History course for high school students in Texas. This is an elective course. Students don't have to take it if they don't want to. Tanto political pedo just to approve one elective course in Mexican American Studies in the state's history. #ApproveMAS
The insanity of purported conservative content replacing time-tested content traditional in social studies textbooks belies not only logic but the factual. The situation over textbooks in Texas is nothing more than “moral casuistry” based on evisceration of what has emerged as the Chicano Canon viewed as antithetical to the orthodox canon of American hegemony.

O
ur concepts of race do not emerge from antiquity. They spring from the Age of Enlightenment in Europe. Notions of race, predicated on a matrix of ancestry, ethnicity, religion, and cultural practices, reveal how deep-seated racial prejudice is. The Jefferson ideal of equality falls short in American discussions of race. Despite the ideal, Jefferson himself believed that the differences between the races were “fixed in nature” and therefore the equality set out in the Declaration of Independence did not apply to all.
At the core of American racial studies one finds the American School of Anthropology and its theory of polygeny—that a hierarchy of human races had separate creations. Like the Nazi school of human differences, the American anthropologist Samuel Morton developed a scheme of racial differences based on cranial capacity to prove his theory that “Caucasian and Mongolian races had the highest cranial capacity and therefore the highest levels of intelligence, while Africans had the lowest cranial capacity and thus the lower levels of intelligence” (Ibid.).
What are we to do when the governor of Texas like the governor of Arizona thumbs his/her nose at public opinion and retorts that the citizens of their states know what’s good for their states? Where does that leave Latinos? And when the governor of Texas threatens to secede from the Union if he doesn’t get his way, does he really think that Tejanos (Texas Latinos) will follow him like lemmings into that worm hole of raging hyperbole? 
What conclusion can be drawn from the xenophobic ethnic cleansing spreading across Arizona and Texas? The conclusion is that xenophobic whites in those states are out to get rid of “Mexicans”—whether they’re citizens or not? That may sound like a harsh judgment, but “Mexicans” are left with little room to maneuver in this ethnic cleansing. White Arizonans and Texans see the world through the prism of whiteness, a prism that wants to white-out all traces of their historically Mexican past and present.
Like Arizona, the history of white Texas is studded with anti-Mexican sentiments. Not surprisingly, Arizona statehood was delayed until 1912 by Republican Senator Albert Beveridge of Indiana until the territory of Arizona had a white population that outnumbered the “Mexican” population there. But the insistence on a Mexican American Study course is to keep national mnemonic seepage at bay—that is, historic amnesia. 
Oscar Martinez, the historian, explains:
The creation of the U.S. –Mexico border in the mid-nineteenth century separated those Mexicans who lived north of the Rio Grande from the motherland, converting them into an ethnic minority in the United States. . . For Border Chicanos, the psychological consequences of continued separation from the U.S. mainstream and of mixed emotion toward Mexico will remain deep and acute.
--Martinez,“Border Chicanos” from Troublesome Border, University of Arizona Press, 1988. 
This is why Mexican American Studies.

Dr. Felipe de Ortego y Gasca, Ph.D. (Renaissance Studies/Chicano Studies)
Scholar in Residence (Cultural Studies, Critical Theory, Public Policy)
Recipient: 2018 NACCS-Tejas Foco Estrella de Aztlan Lifetime Achievement Award
Recipient: 1997 Distinguished Faculty Award, Texas Association of Chicanos in Higher Education
Distinguished Professor Emeritus of English, American and Mexican American
Texas State University System—Sul Ross
Alum: University of Pittsburgh, University of Texas, University of New Mexico
m Western New Mexico University, Miller Library, 1000 College Ave, PO Box 680
Silver City, New Mexico 88062, Branches: Gallup, Deming, Lordsburg & Web
t    O: 575-538-6410, F: 575-538-6178, C: 575-956-5541, e-mail: Philip.Ortego@wnmu.edu
v   Veteran: Sgt. Marine Corps, WW II / Maj. (Res) USAF, Korean Conflict, Early Vietnam Era

&&&&&&&&&&&&&&
Historia Chicana
Mexican American Studies
University of North Texas
Denton, Texas

Thursday, April 19, 2018

San Antonio Is a City of MetamorphosisBY JOHN PHILLIP SANTOS ISSUE MAY 2018

Beautiful piece by John Phillip Santos on San Antonio.  The future IS mestizo.  
A must-read. 

-Angela

San Antonio Is a City of Metamorphosis



What a drag it is getting very old. In our advancing years, every birthday can occasion reckonings with an increasingly voluminous and unwieldy past, sparking fond reminiscences alongside warts-and-all inventories of the years that might inspire reaffirmation of familiar paths, or a wholly new start, or leave us altogether unsettled and chastened, staring blankly toward a diminishing future.
Turns out this can be true even for cities. San Antonio turns 300 this May, and the city’s tricentennial commemoration of its founding has turned out so far to be a mixed bag of brightly festooned anticipation, remarkable creative outpourings, deep historical reflections—and an unmistakable seeping ambivalence. The city’s official programming has been plagued by confusion and early misfires. Nonetheless, San Antonio “obsessives” all over town are seeking out the hidden meanings of this auspicious anniversary.
Historians, artists, journalists, and curators are sorting through myriad narratives of our city’s past and their elusive echoes into the present, imagining what the city may yet become. In effect, though there are many official programs and initiatives, the best observances of the city’s founding are transpiring as a yearlong crowd-sourced event. San Antonio de Béjar is revealing itself to itself, from the ground up.
Historian Andrés Tijerina, who consulted with the Witte Museum on their impressive “Confluence and Culture” tricentennial exhibition, believes the city’s three-hundredth anniversary has a special importance. “San Antonio is, was, and will remain the heart of the story of Texas,” he recently told me. “What happens in San Antonio has always been at the heart of Texas.”
Tijerina is among a generation of historians whose work over the last thirty years has reminded us that Texas’s story began not with the Siege of the Alamo, but long before, and from the south. The fall of Aztec Tenochtitlán, the Conquest, and the emergence of New Spain and Mexico was our Plymouth Rock. San Antonio’s founding two hundred years later arose from those events, complete with the echoes of first encounters between the indigenous and Spanish worlds and the emergence of a mestizo settlement. It was this historic pedigree that made San Antonio the place where modern Texas would be born, connecting our Mexican origins to an American future. And, with its abiding, 
indelible ambiente Mexicano and the ongoing burgeoning of the state’s Latino population, Tijerina observes, San Antonio will likely prove to be a decisive community in the orientation of Texas’s future.
In the words of one of my mentors, the late San Antonio writer Virgilio Elizondo: “The future is mestizo.”

Thousands of Central Texas students Rally, Stepping out of class tomorrow at 10AM

Thousands of Central Texas students rally for gun safety, stepping out of class tomorrow at 10AM.  They gather first at Wooldridge Square located at (900 Guadalupe St., Austin, Texas 78701) and then make their way to the Texas State Capitol.  I hope that adults at school honor them and allow them to do this.
Angela Valenzuela

Thousands of Central Texas students rally in National School Walkout


 

Posted: 4:33 p.m. Thursday, April 19, 2018

Highlights

Central Texas students will walk out of their schools between 10 a.m. and noon.
The event marks the 1999 Columbine High School massacre anniversary, one of worst U.S. school mass shootings.
Students will gather at Wooldridge Square before joining Texas Capitol Walkout for Gun Safety rally.
When LASA High School sophomore Emma Rohloff hears about another school shooting, she isn’t so much scared or angry anymore as she is tired.
She’s tired when she hears what she says is rhetoric about why there shouldn’t be stricter gun laws. Tired that nothing more has been done to stop gun violence.
At 15, Emma is one of Austin’s organizers of the latest National School Walkout, the latest in a string of student-driven protests fueled by the February high school shooting that killed 17 people in Parkland, Fla. Planned for Friday, the event is timed to the anniversary of the Columbine High School massacre in 1999, when two teens killed 12 students and one teacher before killing themselves in one of the worst school shootings in U.S. history.
As they have during other local and national walkouts, students across the country on Friday will call for safer schools and action against gun violence.
“There will always be angry people who will take out their aggression on strangers,” said Emma, who wants a ban on civilian use of semiautomatic weapons. “A knife attack is going to be less deadly than a mass shooting. If we can take a step to reduce the number of lives lost, that is a step we should take.”
Last month, in the strongest show of force to date, tens of thousands of protesters took to the streets and rallied for stricter gun laws during the March for Our Lives rally. An estimated 20,000 participated in Austin.
While the organizers of Friday’s rally don’t anticipate so large a turnout on a weekday, thousands of Central Texas students will walk out of class.
Multiple schools will time the walkout to the 10 a.m. national call, providing time for speakers and observing 13 minutes of silence in honor of the 13 killed at Columbine. Other students are chartering buses (with money they raised that also paid for city permits and PA system speakers) and will immediately depart their campuses and join other students participating in the Texas Capitol Walkout for Gun Safety, at which students, educators and politicians will speak.
“Gun safety is an issue that effects everyone in America, especially students,” said Olivia Hoffman, a 14-year-old freshman at Austin High School. “We’re hoping to incite legislative action and show everyone teenagers are a political force that people need to pay attention to. We are the future leaders of America.”
Hays High School sophomore Vince Johnson, 16, will walk out with about 100 students at his school.
“I don’t like the idea that a school is an unsafe place for kids,” he said. “It’s a place of education, a place of community, a place where people can be together. The idea that the modern high school has been so plagued by gun violence … it’s unthinkable to me.”
The Capitol rally starts at 1 p.m. Students will gather at Wooldridge Square to make posters and signs before walking the few blocks to the Capitol.
Austin High math teacher Steve Trenfield will march alongside them.
“There are some things bigger going on than Algebra II,” said Trenfield, who has taught for five years, including three at Austin High. “This is a time we need to stand up and be heard. What’s happening in our schools around the country is unacceptable.”
Every time there is a lockdown or a school shooting, Trenfield is burdened with thoughts of how he would handle the situation if it were his school: “I’ll do my best if something should happen, but feel like there should be a bigger response from the government because this is a national epidemic.”
Stony Point High School Principal Anthony Watson also will walk alongside his students, not as part of the protest, but to ensure their safety as they walk to U.S. Rep. John Carter’s Round Rock office to deliver a school petition calling for gun reform.
“I want to be with them in case they are met with resistance in any form,” Watson said. “I’m just glad our kids know that to be respectful and responsible is the way to get things done. They’re just trying to have a voice. Whether I agree or not, whatever side they’re on, I’m all of their principal. I can’t give them my endorsement, but they have my help if they need it.”
School districts largely are handling the walkouts with no disciplinary action beyond giving the students unexcused absences, so long as the protests and rallies remain peaceful. Teachers and other staff members are not allowed to participate in their official capacities and therefore must take a personal day if they plan to rally.
“We believe finding their voice is an essential part of our students’ preparation for college, career and life,” Austin school Superintendent Paul Cruz said. “We recognize that emotions are charged in regard to school violence, and we respect the different perspectives of both our students and employees. … Creating an environment where we can support our students with positive and open conversations is key to helping them deal with uncertainty.”

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Why the ‘hyphenated Americanism’ comment triggered outrage




Why the ‘hyphenated Americanism’ comment triggered outrage







People rally in front of the State Board of Education building last week before a preliminary vote on whether to create a statewide Mexican American studies course. RICARDO B. BRAZZIELL / AMERICAN-STATESMAN
The decision by the State Board of Education to approve an elective course for Mexican-American studies in Texas high schools should have triggered triumphant celebrations among the scholars and advocates who worked for years to make the curriculum a reality. Instead, many came away feeling like they were history’s losers once more.
“Discrimination!” Marisa Perez-Diaz, a member of the board, said in a blistering statement that captured the outrage of critics.
Perez-Diaz, a Democrat from Converse who is Mexican-American, was angry that the course will not be called Mexican-American Studies, as scholars and activists had advocated. Instead, after the objections of one member, the Republican-dominated board voted to strip the name and call the course “Ethnic Studies: An Overview of Americans of Mexican Descent.”
The board member who proposed the new name, Beaumont Republican David Bradley, offered this explanation: “I find hyphenated Americanism to be divisive.”
To understand why some Texans consider that statement and the name change a slap in the face is to understand the history of Texas and how it has treated Mexican-Americans as something less than American – not as equals. It is a painful and shameful history that includes loss of rightful lands after the Mexican-American War, Jim Crow laws and systematic discrimination, separate and unequal schools, lynchings, deportations of Mexican-American citizens without due process, bigotry and signs at restaurants, parks, swimming pools and public places that told Mexican Americans they most certainly were not welcome there.
“No dogs, No Negros, No Mexicans,” the signs of Jim Crow-era segregation said.
Even in death, Mexican-Americans were not equals. In some Texas towns they were buried in separate cemeteries, as were African Americans.
But you won’t read much of that sordid history in high school classrooms in Texas, if at all. The historical Mexican-American experience is whitewashed and airbrushed out of textbooks and out of young Texans’ minds.
“To say that one does not believe in hyphenated Americans is one of the reasons we need this course,” Richard Flores, a Mexican-American studies scholar at the University of Texas, told me. “Because this entire Mexican-American community was not accepted into the American way of life.”
Flores wrote the book, “Remembering the Alamo: Memory, Modernity, and the Master Symbol,” which tells a history of the famous battle that is different from the conventional narrative taught in Texas classrooms – that brave Anglos defeated savage Mexicans there. But as Flores’ book conveys, they were not alone — Tejanos, or Mexican-Americans, fought alongside those Anglos.
Throughout history, Mexican-Americans have been called all kinds of hateful epithets. Wetbacks, greasers, beaners, cockroaches, spics – these are some. The word “Mexican” also has historically been used as a slur — President Trump did in 2016 against a U.S. district judge.
To some, stripping the Mexican-American name from the high school course is another attempt to put Mexican-Americans in their place and to dictate their identity, a throwback – setback — to the 1940s and 1950s in Texas.
Angela Valenzuela, another Mexican-American studies scholar at UT who championed the new curriculum, said she would not want her name associated with it under its new name. Her mother would never forgive her, she said, because it harkens back to Jim Crow and the scars it left.
“My mother told us (an American of Mexican descent) is what I was,” she told me. “That was all we were allowed to be then because it was Americanization full throttle.”
Noting that Latinos make up 52 percent of school-age children in Texas – the vast majority Mexican American — Valenzuela said the education board sees Mexican Americans and other Latinos as a threat.
We don’t need a Mexican-American studies course only for its value in setting the historical record straight. We need it because it can highlight Mexican-American historical contributions too and affirm Mexican-Americans’ place as valued contributors to society.
“Without our stories, the message to young people is ‘We weren’t here, we weren’t important and we are not important,” said Maggie Rivas-Rodriguez, director of the Voces Oral History Project at UT, which highlights the WWII contributions of Mexican-Americans who served their country, despite facing rampant discrimination at home.
Bradley, meanwhile, was not in a conciliatory mood. He reportedly said Perez-Diaz was taking the name change personally and that opponents were “antagonizing the board,” actions that could have repercussions on the viability of the course.
Given Texas’ history, it’s easy to see how some might view that as threatening.
“We’re all Americans,” Bradley told the Houston Chronicle. “It’s a melting pot and most of the board agreed with that.”
The irony of Bradley’s statement is that in the land that was Mexico long before Texas became a state, in the face of historical bigotry and discrimination, Mexican-Americans have wanted nothing more than to stake their full and rightful claim as Americans. As equals. Though we might not see it reflected in our textbooks, history teaches us this.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

ANNOUNCEMENT: Spring 2018 George I. Sanchez Memorial Lecture featuring Drs. Melissa DuPont Reyes and Liliana M. Garces



Senator says new legislation giving Texas students 2nd chance at diploma to go into effect

  Thank you for your leadership, Senator Rodriguez. Great leadership like yours saves lives! -Angela

State Sen. José Rodríguez, Guest columnPublished 6:00 a.m. MT April 15, 2018

Starting next month, young adults who did not pass the standardized test used in high schools from 2003 to 2013, but are still working hard to earn a diploma, will have a new opportunity to obtain a high school diploma. 
After years of frustration with the state's focus on high-stakes standardized testing that culminated in 15 exams required to get a high school diploma — a nationwide high — the Texas Legislature began responding to parent and student concerns about overreliance on these tests. 
In 2013, the Legislature reduced the number of State of Texas Assessment of Academic Readiness (STAAR) exams students must pass for a diploma, also known as End-Of-Course (EOC) exams, from 15 to five. In 2015, the Legislature created Individual Graduation Committees (IGCs), which include a teacher, principal, counselor and parent, who can assess coursework and other criteria and recommend whether to award a diploma to a student who passes three or more EOC exams.
This option did not address students who took the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS) test, used for students who entered ninth grade prior to the 2011-2012 school year (students entering high school in the 2011-2012 school year were switched to the STAAR test). According to numbers compiled by State Board of Education member Georgina Perez, there were 19,000 noncompletions of TAKS in El Paso County from 2003-2013. Students might have mastered the material but experienced test anxiety, were sick that day or had a poor night's rest; students might perform poorly for reasons that have nothing to do with content knowledge or academic ability. 
Among those who raised the issue were Ysleta Independent School District counselor Miguel Hidalgo and other members of my Senate District 29 Education Advisory Committee, one of seven committees that advise my office on legislation and other matters. They worked with students who showed through mastery of coursework and sheer determination that they were worthy of a diploma, yet could not pass the TAKS. Years after high school, these students still were working for a diploma that would help them advance at their company or in the military, attend college or simply for the pride of achievement. 
Last session, I amended Senate Bill 463, which reauthorized IGCs, to add a pathway to a diploma for those students. A school district or charter school in which a student was last enrolled must determine whether the individual may qualify to graduate and receive a diploma on the basis of alternative requirements for graduation. Unfortunately, this process is only in place until 2019 before it expires, and there is no requirement that schools locate eligible students. 
The good news is that the Texas Education Agency has completed its guidance for district implementation, and starting next month, eligible students will be able to take this new path to a diploma. My office will work with Perez, the Region 18 and 19 Service Centers, and all of the school district administrators in Senate District 29 to make sure that all eligible young adults know about this opportunity. 
We must protect Texas students from being penalized by one-size-fits-all standardized tests, and ensure opportunities for those who demonstrate educational achievement. This is a big step in that direction.
José Rodríguez represents District 29, which includes El Paso County, in the Texas Senate.

It Matters a Lot Who Teaches Introductory Courses. Here’s Why.

I remember a conversation that I had with a random young, person that I came across working at the Department of Transportation in Austin who had taken an introductory Ethnic Studies course at UT.  I was initially so excited to meet and have this conversation with him, but then he shared that it was one of the worst classes he had ever taken at UT.  

Fortunately, the faculty member is no longer teaching at UT.  The course and the faculty member's teaching sounded subpar, if not openly hostile, toward the students. He said that that experience turned him off to Ethnic Studies which he did not pursue any further.  He said that the students agreed as a group to write a bad evaluation of the professor.  

While I was so disappointed to hear this former student's account, it speaks to what this research and findings are about.  These courses need to matter every bit as much as any, yet sadly, they are not always treated this way.

-Angela 


It Matters a Lot Who Teaches Introductory Courses. Here’s Why.

APRIL 15, 2018



Joshua Lott for The Chronicle
The first professor whom students encounter in a discipline is likely to play a big role in whether they continue in it.
Introductory courses can open doors for students, helping them not only discover a love for a subject area that can blossom into their major but also feel more connected to their campus.
But on many campuses, teaching introductory courses typically falls to less-experienced instructors. Sometimes the task is assigned to instructors whose very connection to the college is tenuous. A growing body of evidence suggests that this tension could have negative consequences for students.
Two papers presented at the American Educational Research Association’s annual meeting in New York on Sunday support this idea.
The first finds that community-college students who take a remedial or introductory course with an adjunct instructor are less likely to take the next course in the sequence.
The second finds negative associations between the proportion of a four-year college’s faculty members who are part-time or off the tenure track and outcomes for STEM majors.
The community-college paper, “Role of Adjunct Faculty in Realizing the Postsecondary Dreams of Historically Marginalized Student Populations,” is not the first to examine the link between part-time instructors and student outcomes, said Florence Xiaotao Ran, its lead author. Several previous papers have found a negative relationship between contingent faculty members and student outcomes.
At least one study has found the opposite effect, although that research was conducted at Northwestern University, which, as its authors noted, is typical in neither its student population nor its working conditions for adjuncts.