Nov 16, 2022 - News

Houston Democrats push again for ethnic studies

Illustration of books like dominoes being hit by a gavel.

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

A Houston lawmaker has reintroduced a bill that would require schools to offer ethnic studies courses.

Driving the news: Democratic Rep. Christina Morales on Monday filed House Bill 45, which would require public high schools to include courses on ethnic studies, such as Mexican American and African American studies, as options for the social studies course requirement.

Why it matters: The push comes as Texas grapples with an education system in crisis and ongoing debates over how and what faculty is allowed to teach about racism.

State of play: Ethnic studies courses on Mexican American and African American histories are only offered as electives in select schools.

  • In the 2021-22 school year, a little more than 16,000 Texas students were enrolled in such courses.
  • Some schools also have other ethnic courses available — Grand Prairie ISD near Dallas piloted a course on American Indian/Native studies last year, Morales said.

Flashback: The same bill passed the House and a Senate subcommittee in 2021, but it didn't make it to the Senate floor for a final vote before the session ended.

  • That year, the bill was co-sponsored by Republican Rep. Dan Huberty, who did not seek re-election.

What they're saying: "This time we're going to pass it," Morales said. "We made history passing it through the House, and we're going to get it all the way through."

  • "Our history … should not be an elective," Morales said. "Our history is important to our students."

Zoom out: The bill was one of hundreds filed by lawmakers Monday, the first day for bills to be filed for the upcoming legislative session.

What's next: The Republican-controlled Legislature will convene in Austin in January.


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