Leaving Latinos out: the teaching of U.S. history in Texas
The primary purpose of this investigation was to explore the factors that influence content choices made by U.S. history teachers in Texas public schools. The ultimate objective was to gain understanding of how these factors affect the extent to which Latinos, in comparison with African Americans and American Indians, are integrated into the historical narrative taught in the classroom. Qualitative methods were primarily used including personal interviews and a focus group with U.S. history teachers in San Antonio. These were combined with other methods including participant observation and content analyses of textbooks, curriculum standards, and course content surveys related to the teaching of U.S. history. Relevant findings from component studies were integrated to provide a more holistic documentation of the representation of Latinos in the teaching of U.S. history in Texas. The areas of investigation included: a) perspectives and practices of teachers, b) current and recently adopted textbooks, c) textbook adoption testimony, and d) the curriculum standards, Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS). These various studies functioned as constituent components which were integrated into the overall design of the larger investigation and the analysis of its data. Though each component study had a purpose specific to its particular focus, each contributed towards constructing a larger mosaic of interrelated parts which taken together achieved the ultimate objectives of this overall investigation. What makes this effort unique is the intent to conduct a comprehensive review of the standards, textbooks, and classroom practices used in the teaching of U.S. history in order to determine the status of Latino representation. It’s significance is underscored by the growing size and historical importance of the Latino population in Texas and the nation, and by the influential role Texas has played at the national level in the selection of history textbooks and in the establishment of social studies curriculum standards. All the findings from this investigation consistently revealed that Latinos are indeed underrepresented in the teaching of U.S. history in Texas. Policy recommendations to remedy this problem are suggested and addressed to key educational actors including classroom teachers and the Texas Education Agency.