Important moments in U.S. Latino history left out of high school textbooks, study finds
According to the report, 87% of key topics regarding Latino history were not covered in history books or were briefly mentioned in five or fewer sentences
May 25, 2023 8:31am
Updated: May 25, 2023 8:31am
Most of the key moments involving Latino history in the United States are being left out of textbooks throughout the country, according to a new report published by Johns Hopkins Institute for Education Policy and Unidos US, a national Latino advocacy and civil rights organization.
According to the report, 87% of key topics regarding Latino history were not covered in history books or were briefly mentioned in five or fewer sentences.
“Only 28 of 222 important topics were covered well, leaving out many aspects of the Mexican-American War, the Spanish-American War, the U.S. acquisition of Puerto Rico, the Panama Canal, the modern civil rights movement, Cold War politics, and legal developments shaping the Latino experience, such as the Voting Rights Act, the Civil Rights Act, and racial segregation,” according to a release on the report.
To conduct the study, researchers reviewed all of the Latino-related content in five history textbooks used in seven states and one AP U.S. history textbook. The team looked for the extent, quality, and variety of Latino experiences depicted throughout the centuries, as well as the use of the language and authenticity of the images accompanying the text.
“Are these young people and their classmates learning about the contributions and experiences of their ancestors in their history classes? Are seminal moments from Latino heritage included in their textbooks? What variability is there among commonly used materials?” were some of the questions the researchers sought to answer.
The Latino-related topics that were covered in the greatest depth included the American land purchases from Mexico and Latin American foreign policy
The team of researchers issued several recommendations for textbook publishers, including that the texts should “fully expose students to the experiences of Latinos, incorporating rigorous content including both primary and secondary sources. At a minimum, publishers should commission independent reviews of their texts, measured against the seminal content.”
Classrooms throughout the nation have almost 14 million Latino students, who represent more than a quarter of the total 50.8 million K-12 public school students.
“As the country grows more diverse, it’s essential for our future workers, businesspeople, community leaders, and public officials to learn about the contributions and experiences of all Americans, including Latinos,” said Viviana López Green, senior director of the Racial Equity Initiative at UnidosUS.