Thursday, April 02, 2009

Need for Chicano/Latino History in California Schools

Testimony: April 2, 2009 . California Committee on the History /Social Science Framework.

Lorena V. Márquez, Doctoral Candidate, University of California, San Diego
I was born and raised in Northern California. My parents were migrant workers and thus my world view was centered on my lived experiences as a poor Mexican immigrant child who had to navigate a series of often culturally hostile environments. To make matters worse, as a Spanish native speaker, the CA public school system made it so that often we were ridiculed rather than encouraged when we attempted to speak English.
You may think to yourself, Lorena, you turned out OK, so what could you possibly complain about? It is not a complaint that I wish to raise but rather a concern that we are turning our backs on the largest ethnic minority in California—the increasing Latino/a population—by not providing them (and others) with a true and representative view of U.S. history.
Unfortunately, it was not until I was an undergraduate at Sacramento State that I learned about Chicano/a history. I then understood the complexities and multi-layered history that makes the fabric of this country. Had it not been for my exposure to this history in college I would have never found my passion for teaching.
I often give Chicano/a history workshops to high school students at no expense. Without a doubt, I am always asked the same question: “Why don’t our teachers teach us this?” These high school students feel as if though they were cheated of a true education. I don’t blame them. I simply state that the teachers are being held accountable to a CA state curriculum that does not include their history. They complain that they only learn--if they’re lucky--about César Chávez. Again, I can only encourage them to do research on their own.
I am here to ask that you consider these students and hear their voices. I ask that you include the history of Chicanos/as and other communities of color because in doing so, you not only acknowledge their existence, but most importantly, their contributions and legacies to the United States.
Thank you for your time and attention.

The Institute for Democracy and Education continues its efforts to update and improve the History/Social Science Framework. See:
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