MAS for Our Schools Team IDRA Nov 2023IDRA Releases MAS for Our Schools Report

(San Antonio • March 19, 2024) Mexican American Studies enriches students’ learning of U.S. history, promotes students’ exploration of self-identity and fosters community. These are among the findings of a youth-led research study supported by IDRA. IDRA released today the students’ report, MAS for Our Schools – A Youth Participatory Action Research Project on the Status of Mexican American Studies in San Antonio.

High school seniors Marcela Hernández, Jonas Lokensgard and Hannah Rosales investigated the status of Mexican American Studies (MAS) in their community and how to help it grow. They conducted a mixed-methods study, involving a student experience survey and focus group interviews with teachers and community members.

“Students are typically subjects of studies like ours, but not the ones who are initiators and conductors of the research,” the student researchers wrote. “Yet, students are some of the most knowledgeable about curriculum and instruction (besides teachers) and thus have critical experience and points of view that can improve, enhance and accelerate the growth of the ethnic studies discipline, and very specifically, MAS.”

MAS for Our Schools Cover smIDRA provided the students with training on the basics of survey research, developing research questions and analyzing results, and IDRA staff served as mentors throughout the project, which began one year ago.

Mexican American Studies (MAS) is an ethnic studies course that delves deeply into the history of the United States and the contributions of Mexican Americans and other diverse ethnic groups, whose voices are historically silenced. The students’ report points to challenges teachers and schools face in offering MAS courses. And it lists a set of six recommendations:

  • Recognize MAS as a core history or social studies credit for graduation.
  • Develop a standardized, comprehensive MAS curriculum.
  • Promote MAS through peer recruitment at the campus level.
  • Support MAS teachers to do their job.
  • Establish partnerships with local organizations.
  • Tell stories and best practices demonstrated by successful MAS programs in public forums.

Marcela is a senior at John Marshall Law and Medical Services High School. Jonas and Hannah are seniors at John Marshall High School. Both schools are in Northside ISD in San Antonio. The project was generously supported by the National Center for Youth Law (NCYL).

“The goal that this project presented was to spread the awareness of MAS and hopefully get that seed planted and get other schools to implement a MAS class.”

– Marcela Hernández, MAS for Our Schools student researcher

“MAS is not just this little class that is offered at a school. It’s much deeper than that. Many people feel deep connections to it and are passionate about it. And that’s why there’s such a push for it.”

– Hannah Rosales, MAS for Our Schools student researcher

“Before I got involved in this project, I had decided to join the MASSA club, thinking ‘I’m going to go to a club (MASSA) in a room full of people that I do not know, and I’m going to try to have fun.’ And I mean, look where it’s gotten me. I was able to be a part of this project and meet some wonderful people.”

– Jonas Lokensgard, MAS for Our Schools student researcher

Learn more about the MAS for Our Schools project

See the flier about this report