September 13, 2016
Good morning colleagues, friends.
This week as we begin discussion on Proclamation 2017, which includes the text “Mexican American Heritage,” we will hear testimony from dozens, if not hundreds, of individuals on the topic. Based on current conversations taking place in the public sphere, this is expected to trigger passionate pleas for quality in our instructional materials from individuals who are studied in and have dedicated their lives to Mexican American Studies, in addition to the number of individuals who simply want what is best for all of our students. We may also hear some hateful and unfounded commentary, as has been shared in social media and news outlets. Independent of this, I ask you to please consider what is right for our children across the state.
Over the last 4 years, I have had the honor of serving on the Texas State Board of Education, alongside each of you. We have had our debates and many times have not agreed on particular issues. However, we have managed to work together and come to decisions that, in most cases, have served to benefit the 5.3 million Texas children in our schools. As only 15 individuals in the entire state who have been elected to represent every single child in the Texas public education system, we have an enormous and utterly important charge: to ensure that our decisions serve the best interest of EVERY CHILD, regardless of color or creed; to set a high standard for EVERY child in order to foster their intellectual growth and development; and to recognize the implications that our decisions will have on the future of our state, country and world.
I am the daughter and granddaughter of migrant workers. My story is the Mexican American story, but rest assured - I am every bit as American as you. I am your equal. I have worked as hard for my place at this table as any of you, and have worked as hard as my ancestors had to in order to contribute to the success of the US. As such, I deserve to have my story told with respect, dignity and in a just manner. I ask you all as professional colleagues, but more so as fellow public servants and friends, that as we move into our public testimony tomorrow, you arrive with open ears, open eyes and an open heart. I also implore you to acknowledge that the call for instructional materials on not just Mexican American Studies, but also African American, Native American and Women’s Studies, was not done as an attack on “The American Way,” but as a request for deserved acknowledgement of the strife and contribution that different populations of AMERICANS have experienced which have, in fact, enriched “The American Way.”
I ask that when you consider your decision on this issue, you remember that WE are responsible for ALL children, WE are responsible for education with integrity and WE must do what is right. This book is NOT right. This book is disgraceful, misrepresentative and negligent.
Let us show the public that we are on the side of true and responsible instruction. Let us send the message, as a cohesive and positive force for public education, that we hear the voices of the thousands of Texans we represent and we will not stand for such academically insulting rhetoric and materials.
Marisa B. Perez-Diaz, Member
Texas Board of Education