A CALL TO ACTION THE TEJAS FOCO OF THE NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF CHICANA AND CHICANO STUDIES

On behalf of the Tejas Foco of NACCS, we encourage persons concerned about House Bill 1938 and Senate Bill 1128 to speak to the press, write articles to their state representatives and senators, and offer testimony before the Senate Committee on Higher Education. The bills (“Relating to curriculum requirements in American and Texas history at institutions of higher education”) were referred to the Senate Committee on Higher Education on March 12, 2013 and may or may not be given a hearing before the legislative session ends in June. The text of SB 1128—the same as HB 1938—appears at the following site: http://www.capitol.state.tx.us/BillLookup/History.aspx?LegSess=83R&Bill=SB1128. If you wish to track the bill, go to: http://www.capitol.state.tx.us/BillLookup/BillNumber.aspx. The lead bill, SB 1128, would amend the current legislative mandate that requires students to earn six hours of credit in US history with the standard US and Texas survey history courses or their “equivalent” before they can graduate with a bachelor’s degree. SB 1128 would limit the “equivalent” courses to the ones that provide “a comprehensive survey” of US history. Senator Dan Patrick, a member of the Senate Committee on Higher Education and the author of SB 1128, interprets its intent to mean, 1) that students will no longer be allowed to use “equivalent” or complementary courses unless someone—yet to be identified--deems the complementary courses to be comprehensive, and 2) that most if not all complementary courses focusing on special topics and themes are not sufficiently comprehensive and can no longer serve as equivalents to the US and Texas history survey course (Reeve Hamilton, “Patrick Faults Critics of Bill on College History Classes,” The Texas Tribune, March 18, 2013, http://www.texastribune.org/2013/03/18/patrick-respondscritics-bill-college-history/).

THE TEJAS FOCO OF NACCS URGES THE FOLLOWING 2 ACTIONS:
1. Immediately fax or email a letter to your state representative, your state senator, and State Senator Kel Seliger, Chair of the Senate Higher Education Committee—also, copy the members of the Senate Higher Education Committee (see list of committee members below). Sends copies of your letters to Emilio Zamora, E.zamora@austin.utexas.edu 2. Also offer testimony. You can register as a witness on the day of the hearing, declaring that you are going to testify “on,” “for,” or “against” the bill. If you give testimony, you can submit a written statement that you can read or simply refer to it. If you are going to testify, send your name, phone number, and email address to Emilio Zamora so that we can notify you about the date of the

possible hearing. The hearing will be held on Wednesday and we may not know its date until a day or two before. MEMBERS OF SENATE HIGHER EDUCATION COMMITTEE The Honorable Kel Seliger, Chair P.O. Box 12068 Capitol Extension, Room E1.606, State Capitol Austin, TX 78711 (512) 463-0131 (512) 475-3733 fax For email submission: http://www.seliger.senate.state.tx.us/ The Honorable Kirk Watson, Vice Chair P.O. Box 12068 Capitol Station Austin, Texas 78711 (512) 463-0114 (512) 463-5949 (Fax) For email submission: http://www.watson.senate.state.tx.us/ The Honorable Brian Birdwell P.O. Box 12068 Capitol Station Austin, Texas 78711 (512) 463-0122 (512) 475-3729 (fax) For email submission: http://www.birdwell.senate.state.tx.us/ The Honorable Robert Duncan P.O. Box 12068 Capitol Station Austin, Texas 78711 (512) 463-0128 Toll Free (800) 322-9538 Fax: (512) 463-2424 For email submission: http://www.duncan.senate.state.tx.us/ The Honorable Dan Patrick P.O. Box 12068 Capitol Station Austin, Texas 78711 (512) 463-0107 (512) 463-8810 (Fax) For email submission: http://www.patrick.senate.state.tx.us/

The Honorable Royce West P.O. Box 12068 Capitol Station Austin, Texas 78711 (512) 463-0123 (512) 463-0299 fax For email submission: http://www.west.senate.state.tx.us/ The Honorable Judith Zaffirini P.O. Box 12068 Capitol Station Austin, Texas 78711 (512) 463-0121 (512) 475-3738 (fax)

YOU MAY USE THE FOLLOWING IN YOUR PUBLIC STATEMENTS:
The following general statements are intended to assist concerned persons who wish to speak publicly, write letters of support, and offer testimony before the Senate Committee on Higher Education. The Tejas Foco believes that the sponsors of the legislative bills are devoid of justification, fail to consider their impact on Texas colleges and universities, and encourage racial conflict.

I.

We should not change the course of history teaching in Texas colleges and universities. A. The state of Texas is already investing significant resources to the teaching of US and Texas survey history courses in the 8th and 11th grades and has incorporated US history into the social science curriculum of our public schools; B. Texas colleges and universities are already investing significant resources to the teaching of US and Texas survey history courses and complementary courses in US and Texas history. C. Texas colleges and universities observe established norms and procedures in designing and assigning courses, selecting the appropriate faculty to teach these courses, and abiding by legislative mandates, including course and graduating requirements D. History departments in Texas colleges and universities observe established norms and procedures in abiding by the legislative mandate that requires undergraduate students to earn six hours credit in US history with survey and equivalent courses before they can graduate.

E. History departments in Texas colleges and universities observe established norms and procedures in faculty hiring, instructor and course evaluations, and equivalency decisions on courses that supplement the US and Texas history survey courses. F. The complementary history courses provide depth and breadth to the US and Texas survey courses. G. The complementary courses allow faculty to apply their special training, classroom experience, and scholarship to the comprehensive teaching of US and Texas history. H. The complementary history courses reflect a standard institutional objective of advancing the learning of history by providing students a comprehensive approach that gives emphasis to a variety of topics, themes, and research questions.

II.

House Bill 1938 and Senate Bill 1128 do not offer evidence to change the current legislative mandate. A. The sponsors of HB 1938 (Giovanni Capriglione) and SB 1128 (Dan Patrick) do not demonstrate how history departments in Texas colleges and universities are violating or undermining the intent of the current legislative mandate. B. The sponsors of the proposed bills fail to show that history departments in Texas colleges and universities have failed to observe the six-hour requirement in US and Texas history. C. The sponsors of the proposed bills fall short of explaining why they believe that complementary courses do not have the equivalent value of US and Texas survey courses. 1. Senator Patrick has stated that the National Association of Scholars (NAS) encouraged him to sponsor SB 1128 with their recent report, “Recasting History: Are Race, Class, and Gender Dominating History?” (See Luke Darby, “Sen. Dan Patrick Says Bill to Limit Race-Focused College History Courses Not About Limiting Race-Focused College History Courses,” The Texas Tribune, March 19, 2013). 2. The report is seriously flawed in its assumptions, research methods, and interpretations: (a) It assumes that an emphasis on race, class, and gender in history complementary courses violates the current legislative mandate and undermines a comprehensive treatment of US and Texas history.

(b) Its research is limited to two major universities, an undetermined number of history course syllabi, and the brief statements of research and teaching interests of history faculty that their departments posted on their informational electronic sites. (c) On the basis of seriously flawed assumptions and research methods the report offers highly questionable interpretations, including the suggestion that all colleges and universities in Texas and their history departments have been derelict in meeting their duties and responsibilities as institutions of higher learning in Texas. III. The sponsors of HB 1938 and SB 1128 do not offer an analysis of the possible impact of their proposed change. A. The proposed bills would disrupt university governance policy and relations between Texas colleges and universities and the Texas Legislature, the Higher Education Coordinating Board, Boards of regents, and accrediting agencies. B. The proposed bills could lead impair faculty hiring and retention practices and, as a consequence, undermine the capacity of Texas colleges and universities to sustain distance learning initiatives, core curriculum standards, and history UIL programs for public school students. C. History departments would have to seriously alter their academic programs; this would minimally result in the reduction in the numbers of their complementary courses that may currently represent anywhere from one-third to one-half of all the US and Texas history offerings in Texas colleges and universities. D. The reduction in the number of complementary courses will prevent history departments from offering courses in a broad range of fields within US and Texas history, including religious history, Jewish history, civil war history, military history, Texas history, history of the south, Mexican American history, women’s history and African American history. E. Large survey courses in US and Texas history (with less faculty-student contact) would most probably increase; extension and on-line courses (also with less faculty-student contact) would increase, and the number of history majors and graduate students in US and Texas history (who typically serve as teaching assistants in large survey classes) would have to be reduced. F. Generalists in US and Texas history would most probably fill vacated lines previously filled by faculty with established scholarly reputations in various fields in US and Texas history.

G. The drop in the numbers of faculty with significant scholarly accomplishments would undermine the quality of higher education and the overall reputation of Texas colleges and universities in the United States. H. Altering the academic programs in history departments could lead to similar changes in other areas that contribute to the core curriculum through social science and liberal arts programs in colleges and universities throughout the Texas.

IV. Senator Dan Patrick, the sponsor of SB 1128, has racialized the discourse surrounding his proposals. A. Although Senator Patrick publicly claims that he wishes to deny history departments from using all complementary courses, he singles out courses on Mexican Americans and African Americans. B. Senator Patrick admits that the National Association of Scholars influenced his decision to propose SB 1128. This is same organization that irresponsibly suggests that teaching courses about Mexican Americans is part of an effort to violently separate the American Southwest from the United States through “Civil War and Reconquista” (See image of a high-powered rifle superimposed over a map of the United States and a severed American Southwest, Ashley Thorne, “Arizona Ends Divisive Chicano Studies in Schools,” NAS site, http://www.nas.org/articles/Arizona_Ends_Divisive_Chicano_Studies_in_Schools)