The chairman of the State Board of Education said there is insufficient time to seek input from Hispanic experts before new reading and writing curriculum standards for Texas public school students are adopted.
But with Hispanic children making up 47 percent of the 4.7 million students in Texas public schools, the board’s senior member Wednesday called the decision by her colleagues tantamount to malice.
“It’s just ignorance on their part,” said Mary Helen Berlanga, a 26-year board member from Corpus Christi.
The board is set to take a preliminary vote March 27 on the new English language arts and readings standards, which will influence new textbooks for the 2009-10 school year.
A four-member board subcommittee signaled its intent Wednesday to stick with that schedule after state Rep. Abel Herrero, D-Robstown, pleaded to let Latino experts review the standards first.
Board chairman Don McLeroy insisted that major changes to the proposed updates are no longer possible. Advocates say the standards need opinions from experts who have researched Hispanic children and understand their learning styles.
“There is no way that ignoring such a sizable chunk of this population from consideration of education policy will do anything but harm the opportunity of a generation,” Herrero said.
McLeroy said there had been plenty of time for experts to weigh in earlier on new curriculum standards. He said he was shocked by accusations that he and others board members are trying to shortchange Hispanic students.
“There’s no malice at all, none, zip, nada. There’s just no time to get another expert in,” McLeroy said. “None of us would do anything to hurt any group of children or any (individual) child. What we want is for them to be successful in the English language because it’s so important.”
According to the Texas Education Agency, Hispanic children make up a large plurality of students attending state public schools this year. White students make up 35 percent and Blacks 14 percent.
Teachers and other English language and reading experts can offer comments on the 78-page proposal at the public hearing next week.
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