SB 1128 Attacks Ethnic Studies in Texas, But Students and Educators Fight Back

Following Arizona’s lead, conservative Texas State Senator Dan Patrick has created S.B. 1128, a bill which will ban ethnic studies as a choice for core Texas and U.S. history courses required in Texas universities. The alternative will require students to take general U.S. and Texas history courses to satisfy the requirement.

After having a conversation with the office of Senator Dan Patrick, the staff clarified that the bill was created simply to make sure students are taking courses that are relevant to Texas and U.S. history. Seemingly, in an effort to be inclusive, Patrick is determined to push for a comprehensive approach to history by eliminating ethnic studies. 

The office of Texas Senator Dan Patrick seems to feel Latino history is well represented in K-12 education, and should not be considered general Texas and U.S. history. However, State Rep Norma Chavez (D) states that out of the 162 historical figures represented in K-12 public school standards, only 16 are Latino. Notably, Patrick has also supported legislation similar to Arizona’s SB1070 which encourages racial profiling to crack down on immigration.

Los Librotraficantes, an organization of educators and writers who mobilized a caravan to defend ethnic studies in Tucson, Arizona, quickly responded to SB 1128.

“TX Senator Dan Patrick’s SB 1128 must be taken off the floor. It is another Arizona House Bill 2281 in the making. It is an attack on Ethnic Studies,” stated Tony Diaz in a press release written before meeting with TX Senator Dan Patrick’s office in Austin.

The Mexican American Studies Student Association (MASSO) at the University of Texas at San Antonio are also fighting to protect ethnic studies in Texas. “Too many Americans are not aware of American borderland cultura at all. We exist. We want to learn more about American history — our history as Americans. We learn how and why Europeans ended up here, why not everyone else?” said Sonya Rose Hernandez, MASSO president and UTSA student.

While resistance to the proposed bill is strong, only time will tell whether those mobilizing will be more successful than they were in Arizona.

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Maribel Hermosillo

Maribel Hermosillo is a contributor for PolicyMic's Identities column covering racial justice and feminism. Maribel has written for Rh Reality Check, Strong Families, The San Antonio Current, Yes Ma’am, Brown Queen and The Arts United of San Antonio. Maribel graduated from the University of Texas at San Antonio with a focus on American Studies and Mexican-American Studies. Maribel's experience as a first generation queer woman of color deeply informs her writing and poetry. Maribel likes to take long reflective walks on mountains, hills and wooded areas. She resides in San Antonio, Texas.

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