Latino

The National Hispanic University was created more than 30 years ago to educate first-generation college students from Latino backgrounds. Next year, the only school of its kind west of the Mississippi will close its doors.

NHU sits in the shadow of the East San Jose foothills in California's Silicon Valley. All the classrooms and faculty offices fit in one modern three-story building in the heart of a working-class Latino neighborhood. But the postwar elementary school right next door used to serve as the institution's hallowed halls.

Across the country this weekend, Cinco de Mayo will be celebrated with festivals, music, Mexican food and plenty of bar specials.

But south of the border, the holiday merits little more than a parade in the city of Puebla, east of Mexico City. There, in 1862, outgunned Mexican troops defeated an invading French army.

There is no music in this week's episode of Alt.Latino. Instead, we do one of our occasional "deep dives" into a subject to pursue insights and perspectives that help us think about more than music. This time around, the subject is Cesar Chavez, the recent biopic about the civil-rights activist and labor leader and the movement to unionize farm workers.

Ryan Poppe / TPR News

Mexican-American studies courses were pushed to the back of the line; sometimes having no curriculum, as here in Texas, or being outright banned in states like Arizona.

Many academics and activists have argued for years that we aren't educating students about their independent cultures and are instead focusing on a predominant culture that focuses on the accomplishments of white Americans. But the changing demographics of Texas raised the issue to a fever pitch last week at the State Board of Education (SBOE).

Last Thursday, April 10, the Texas State Board of Education approved the creation of a new state elective course, which includes a class in Mexican-American studies. The board is now calling on book publishers to submit new textbooks for these courses.

School districts already had permission to create these special interest courses, but many districts wanted to give these courses some teeth.

Marisa Perez, an SBOE member from San Antonio, said that started with the creation of course standards.

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