Help Us Get American Indian/Native Studies Back on Track

AI/NS Poster
Art by Deante’ Moore

Since the Spring of 2020, a committee of Native community members and allies have been collectively developing a course in American Indian/Native Studies. The AI/NS course has been piloted at Grand Prairie ISD for two and a half years and was approved as an Innovative Course by the Texas Education Agency in the summer of 2023. Since then, the course has been adopted or is in the process of being adopted in Robstown ISD, Crowley ISD, Fort Worth ISD, and in several other districts.

Following a positive discussion about the course at the November State Board of Education (SBOE) meeting, the SBOE stated its intention to place it on the agenda for "First Reading" at their January 30-February 2nd meeting. At first reading, the Texas Education Agency presents the board with a set of standards which are then discussed. The public is invited to share their thoughts on the course in person at the meeting, or online through a public comment period that remains open until the "Second Reading" at the next SBOE meeting. Despite the course standards being ready to review, the course was absent from the SBOE agenda. The new board chair has stated publicly that he did not place the course on the agenda because he wanted more time to personally review the course. However, because the SBOE Committee of Instruction already approved the course to move to the full board, there was no need for Chair Kinsey to pass the course through an extra level of review.

Most recently, Chair Kinsey has announced that the course is not on the April agenda and that he feels the course remaining as an innovative course is sufficient. The native and Ethnic Studies community has been clear, however: AI/NS deserves to be considered for the full social studies elective catalogue so that the course is not at perpetual risk of being canceled and so that districts will feel a sense of certainty when offering the course. The AINS innovative course expires after 2025.  If the SBOE continues this pattern of delay, the Social Studies course review process could be delayed well beyond this year.

The SBOE can and should add the AI/NS course to the June 2024 agenda. Use the email tool on this page to continue to call on Chair Kinsey and the Texas SBOE to review the course this year.

While the larger community continues to advocate for full TEKS Social Studies adoption, districts can and should continue to offer the AI/NS Innovative course during the 2024-2025 school year.

The Texas community has been calling for Ethnic Studies courses for more than 40 years. At previous points in Texas history, the Texas SBOE has approved Ethnic Studies courses, only to not fully support them or turn away from them when new leadership has come in. Despite being the first state board to adopt high-school level Mexican American and African American Studies courses in 2018 and 2020, the current Texas SBOE seems to be moving in a very different direction.

Help us call on Texas SBOE members to honor the thousands of hours of free volunteer labor that have gone into creating the American Indian/Native Studies course and give the course the dignity of a "First Reading" during the next available board meeting in the late Spring of 2024.

In the 2023-2024 academic year alone, 21,000 students have enrolled in Mexican American Studies and African American Studies. Over the last 4 years, almost 63,000 students have enrolled in a TEKS-approved Ethnic Studies course. Simply put, students want to take Ethnic Studies courses and districts want to offer them. Most importantly, Ethnic Studies courses have been found both empirically (Cabrera et tal 2012; Penner and Dee 2017) and experientially to improve school attendance, academic interest, transferrable skills, and academic achievement across multiple subject areas.

Let's not allow the American Indian/Native Studies course review process to experience a slow bureaucratic death on Chair Kinsey's desk.

Use this email tool to write an email to the SBOE Chair and all Texas SBOE members.

If you have not yet done so, please also sign the AI/NS petition and share it with friends and family.

This email campaign was created by the Ethnic Studies Network of Texas, an organization dedicated to the expansion and growth of Ethnic Studies in the State of Texas.