Ruben Cortez Jr., a member of the State Board of Education from District 2, visited Stephen F. Austin High School today to check on the progress of a new history class that is near and dear to his heart – Mexican-American studies. Cortez, who is from Brownsville, Texas, advocated for the new course and convinced the board to approve it in April of last year. The vote included asking the Texas Education Agency to draft new state standards (Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills, better known as TEKS) in Mexican-American history.
Cortez spoke to 11th-graders in social studies teacher David Arriaga’s one-semester Mexican-American Studies class that was introduced in the fall of 2014. According to Austin Principal Steve Guerrero, Cortez connected with the students, telling them about the importance of having role models who will empower and inspire them.
Cortez told students about being raised by a struggling single mother who moved to California for work and met labor leader Cesar Chavez. She attended one of his rallies for better working conditions for farm workers and went on to get a college degree and become a justice of the peace.
Also in attendance at Austin were HISD Board Members Juliet Stipeche and Manuel Rodriguez Jr.