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New Report by the Samuel DeWitt Proctor Institute Advocates Integrating Mexican American Studies into Texas Public Schools

Contact: Brandy Jones
Telephone: 848-932-0788

New Brunswick, N.J., April 21, 2021— The Samuel DeWitt Proctor Institute for Leadership, Equity, & Justice (Proctor Institute) is proud to announce the release of a new report, “Leading from the Hyphen: A Conocimientos Movement to Integrate Mexican American Studies into Texas Public Schools.” This report is part of a three-report research series examining leadership within the context of education, both at K-12 and higher education levels. 

The report begins with a brief history of Mexican American educational inequality in the U.S. and an overview of recent attempts to institutionalize Mexican American Studies (MAS) in the K-12 curriculum in heavily Hispanic school districts, such as those in Arizona and Texas. It also draws on interviews with South Texas-based professors, public school teachers, administrators, and community activists to better understand the impetus behind bringing MAS to all K-12 students. 

“I first became aware of resistance to Mexican American Studies (MAS) through the heartbreaking banning and closure of the MAS program in the Tucson Unified School District in 2010, as profiled in the documentary Precious Knowledge," shared Alice Ginsberg, author of the MAS report. “As a teacher educator who supports culturally relevant pedagogy, educational equity, and indigenous knowledge, it was particularly difficult to know that the candidates in my class who were working to support educational diversity and inclusion might be 'shut down' in a similar manner. The multifaceted initiatives taking place in South Texas to integrate MAS into the K-12 curriculum is grassroots and involves educators, teacher candidates, practicing classroom teachers and administrators, students, curriculum developers, policymakers, and community activists together in a common cause.” 

Throughout the 20th century, Mexican American students experienced de facto segregation and systemic racism, wherein many students found school to be marginalizing and traumatic. Many Mexican American students today are still treated as “foreigners” and experience educational inequities that hinder their success and sense of belonging. With the recent national push to teach students American Exceptionalism, the report examines a new generation of social justice educators in Texas who are trying to integrate MAS across the K-12 curriculum, including units on Mexican American culture, art, literature, language, and identity.

“It’s very important to learn about the many inequities that occurred in our education system, including the discrimination Mexican Americans faced — and continue to face — as students,” shared Marybeth Gasman, Samuel DeWitt Proctor Endowed Chair and Distinguished Professor. “As an effort to emphasize the importance of Mexican history and culture, integrating Mexican American studies into public school systems is just the first of many steps towards educating the future generation of leaders.”  

According to the MAS educational leaders highlighted in the report, MAS in Texas public schools is set to provide several benefits for those who have been historically disengaged and marginalized in public education. Some of these benefits include an increase in student academic engagement through culturally relevant learning, increased self-esteem and pride in the rich body of MAS literature, and brings forth a sense of encouragement for students to see multicultural education and education equity as a critical step towards active citizenship. The interdisciplinary approach also builds on community resources, such as engaging local writers, artists, and historians, and field trips to art exhibits, historical sites, theatrical performances, and murals.

“It is important for K-12 students in Texas to learn, not so much about MAS, but to engage their students through MAS,” shared Lilliana Saldaña, a Chicana activist scholar. “MAS, which is rooted in the anti-colonial struggles of the Chicano movement, cultivates a positive academic identity for students, while sustaining their cultural and linguistic practices and ways of knowing, or ways being in the world.” 

The report concludes with actionable recommendations for leaders including curriculum developers, institutions of higher education, public school teachers and administrators, policymakers, and community activists. The recommendations range from developing MAS textbooks and teaching materials, making MAS available to all students, developing courses that provide them with a deep dive into the history and culture of different racial and ethnic groups, and many more suggestions to ensure MAS is integrated within the education system properly. 

The report can be found here.

About the Samuel DeWitt Proctor Institute for Leadership, Equity, and Justice 
The Samuel DeWitt Proctor Institute for Leadership, Equity, and Justice (Proctor Institute) is a national center that focuses on issues of leadership, equity, and justice within the context of higher education. It brings together researchers, practitioners and community members to work toward the common goals of diversifying leadership, enhancing equity, and fostering justice for all. The Proctor Institute is located at Rutgers University—New Brunswick, in the Graduate School of Education and houses the Rutgers Center for Minority Serving Institutions (CMSI). Learn more at

Wednesday, April 28, 2021
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