Austin/ Politics & Govt
AI Assisted Icon
Published on April 02, 2024
Texas State Board of Education Again Delays Native Studies Course Amid Rising Advocacy and FrustrationSource: Facebook/Texas State Board of Education

The Texas State Board of Education has once again stalled the approval of an American Indian/Native Studies course, drawing criticism from advocates who have been seeking its adoption since 2020. The course was expected to be on the agenda for this month's meetings, yet it was conspicuously absent, leaving supporters to wait until at least June for the next chance at a review — too late for the upcoming school year's curriculum planning, according to The Texas Tribune.

Eliza Epstein, co-facilitator of the Ethnic Studies for Texas Schools Coalition, noted their growing frustration, stating, "This is the process that the state is supposed to follow when ethnic studies courses are brought forward.” Unfortunately, repeated delays have thwarted these efforts, prompting concern and disappointment among those advocating for the material's inclusion in Texas classrooms. Moreover, the Grand Prairie Independent School District has been offering the class as an Innovative Course since 2021, but official SBOE approval is needed to solidify its place in the state's education system.

The current chairman of the State Board of Education, Aaron Kinsey, cited the need for members "more time to review its contents" as a reason for pushing the initial vote to a later date. However, as reported by The Dallas Morning News, advocates are disheartened by the delays. Kinsey's decision was met with backlash, particularly from Native community leaders like Hawana Huwuni Townsley, a member of the Comanche Nation, who expressed the importance of Texas students learning about Native contributions and continuing presence through the course, stating, "We are still here, and that’s what we’re asking for this course to communicate and to give to the children of our state: that understanding that we are still here and we are of value."

Amid a politically charged climate regarding race and education, the course's proponents are eager to combat stereotypes and highlight Native American contributions. The State Board's recent ideological shift has been noted as a potential hurdle for the Native studies course, with concerns over how it might handle sensitive topics like the history of enslavement. Board member Pat Hardy hinted at needing a balanced perspective on such issues, stating, "You need to have balance to what you’re saying."