Texas Board Adopts Curriculum Standards for African American Studies Course in Historic Vote

• IDRA Newsletter • April 2020 •

IDRA applauds the Texas State Board of Education (SBOE) for its approval of the proposed curriculum standards for a state-approved African American Studies course. With the unanimous vote, the State Board of Education took a step in the right direction to create excellent and equitable schools in which all students learn about the rich contributions to this country that African Americans have made in all disciplines.

“At a time when the nation is divided and students feel disconnected from their schools, a more inclusive and accurate version of history is as critical as ever to building a more connected and cohesive society,” said Celina Moreno, J.D., IDRA President & CEO. “The vote gives us hope that past debates over whether to adopt a racist Mexican American Studies textbook or exclude from history standards African American heroes like Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall will be left in the past.”

Researchers at the Stanford Graduate School of Education and the University of Arizona found that students who participated in ethnic studies courses had higher attendance rates, standardized test scores, GPAs and graduation rates. A 2019 study also showed improvement in self-identity and a reduction in prejudice. Many Texas student leaders have attested to these benefits, joining to advocate expansion of Mexican American Studies courses and adoption of the new African American Studies curriculum standards.

“The study of African American history by all students provides opportunities to address the issue of race and racial inequalities in the United States,” said Dr. Paula Johnson, director of the IDRA EAC-South. “The important conversations that will result from this course offering are long overdue and are necessary for our society to understand and address historical disparities.”

Dr. Johnson is a member of the San Antonio African American Studies Course Curriculum Advisory Team under the leadership of State Board of Education trustees Aicha Davis and Marisa Pérez.

IDRA and its allies in the Texas Legislative Education Equity Coalition continue to call on the State Board of Education to prioritize multiculturalism and cultural relevance when developing the entire core curriculum for a more representative Texas public education system.

IDRA provides services for educators in offering African American Studies. Learn more at: https://www.idra.org/services/african-american-studies-idra-services.

Morgan Craven, J.D., IDRA National Director of Policy, Advocacy and Community Engagement, presented IDRA’s testimony before the Texas State Board of Education, November 13, 2019.

[©2020, IDRA. This article originally appeared in the April 2020 IDRA Newsletter by the Intercultural Development Research Association. Permission to reproduce this article is granted provided the article is reprinted in its entirety and proper credit is given to IDRA and the author.]