SB 1451 – Correcting Texas “revisionist history”

12 05 2010
Concerns that “extremist” curriculum decisions being made in Texas don’t one day creep into California textbooks has prompted legislation that would require additional content screening to filter out the changes.
SB 1451, by state Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco, comes in response to a decision by the Texas Board of Education to include as part of a social studies/history curriculum framework update some eye-catching edits including:

  • Highlighting the inaugural address of Jefferson Davis, president of the Confederate State of America.
  • Dropping Thomas Jefferson from a list of great political thinkers.
  • Reducing information about the impact of Latinos in U.S. history.
  • Replacing hip-hop music with country-western as an important cultural influence.
  • And, replacing “capitalism” with “free market” and the term “democratic” (as in a form of government) with “constitutional republic.”
Yee said in an interview last week that he’s worried some or all of what he called “revisionist history” would make its way into California textbooks because Texas is reviewing its curriculum framework ahead of California and the publishing industry might make it expensive not to follow along.

That is, textbook publishers will use the curriculum adopted in Texas – the nation’s second largest textbook market next to California – to write the textbooks that California might have to adopt because they will be the most current.

It seems that what’s going on in Texas was that they were trying to use politics and political philosophy to change the way in which textbooks would be written,” Yee said in an interview with Cabinet Report.
“I think that clearly one needs to get into exactly why this is so critical,” Yee said. “So what if Texas has a framework that we don’t like, how is that going to influence us?”

His bill would require the California State Board of Education, upon next review of the history/social science framework, to notify the legislature if it finds that any of the new content adopted in Texas has been included in the curriculum.

California’s history/social science framework was due to be reviewed and adopted this year but suspended until the 2013-14 school year as a result of budgetary concerns and the passage of Assembly Bill X4 2 last year.

“What this bill will do is require the [California] State Board of Education to look at the changes that the Texas Board of Education is suggesting in their framework and evaluate that against the appropriateness to the California standards,” Yee said. The state board would then be required to report to the legislature its findings.

The Texas Board of Education is now taking comments on the framework revisions and is scheduled to take a final vote in May. The elected board is currently made up of a Republican majority of 10-5.

Yee’s bill passed the Senate Education Committee and now heads to the Senate Appropriations Committee.

By Tom Chorneau and Mary Gardner
School Innovations & Advocacy, Inc.

Second letter regarding proposed budgetary cuts in the CSUB academic programs.

26 10 2009

October 25, 2009

Dr. Horace Mitchell, President
California State University Bakersfield
9001 Stockdale Highway
Bakersfield, CA 93312


(click here for letter)

Dear Dr. Mitchell,

This is my second letter which I write to you regarding discussions currently being held regarding proposed budgetary cuts in the CSUB academic programs.  After I sent you my initial letter last week,  I have been observing a continuing growth in the number of letters and overall correspondence directed to your office and to CSUB.  It is because of the severity and enormous consequences that I write a second letter to you.

First, I realize that all campuses of the CSU system are facing difficult decisions.  No one wants to see programs or departments cut or eliminated from a campus, and to see campuses across the state debate and argue as what programs and or departments to cut or eliminate. It is widely recognized of the severity of the budgetary situation state-wide.  But at the same time, it is hoped that whatever actions are taken that they have the least negative impact and the most minimal effect  on the university and the community which is served by the university in question.  It has come to the attention  of the academic community at CSUB, and the community in Kern County and Bakersfield,  that the Department of  Modern Languages and Literatures (Foreign Language) and other academic connected classes like Chicano Studies are being considered to be eliminated as a result of deliberations now taking place now with the ultimate decision to be made by you in  December, as President, based on the advice and recommendations of your administrative staff.  Based on the information that has circulated throughout the campus, the “moratorium” being considered would effectively result in the elimination of the undergraduate language programs as well as the graduate level programs.  It is my understanding that based on a letter by one of your professors that the Dean of the Humanities & Social Sciences Division met with the Chair of the Modern Languages Department and informed him that he would recommend a moratorium on majors in their program – effectively killing the program.

As many other professors and scholars have written to you, the possibility of this action occurring would go contrary to the idea that CSUB has a comprehensive mission supporting diversity and excellence  in its curriculum and students.  It has been asked already, how can a modern California university with a huge Latino population where being bilingual and bi-literate is an asset and a sign of an educated society even consider such an outrageous proposal?  I am sure you already are aware that your Latino student population already constitutes 45%, that the Bakersfield City School District has a 76% majority of Latino students, the Kern High School District has reached 87,042 which is 50% of the total while the under 18 age group of Latino students is 35,683 or 61.9% according to the California State enrollments figures for 2000. The  total public Latino enrollments  in Kern County already constitute a majority of students at 56 % in 2006-2007.

These figures are offered to demonstrate that the population figures already constitute the majority of students in the County, that they will continue to grow and that eliminating the proposed programs at CSUB can only be interpreted as an attack on the student population at CSUB at 45% and the rest of the Latino population in this region.  Think of the thousands of high school students currently taking language courses at their high school.  Word has reached them of this proposed action, and not only are they stunned and in shocked, but they are  angered and bewildered by the potential disastrous impact this could have on their lives.

Secondly, it should be noted, according to sociologists and other social scientists, that such an action that is being contemplated  is tantamount to an institutional act of cultural genocide.  I realize that these words might sound harsh, but the reality is that this action can be seen as a means in which the power structure, institutionally speaking, decides to eliminate a academic, curricular program and this action results in a rejection of the idea of language diversity.  Institutional cultural genocide can be defined as the elimination (i.e., extermination) of  cultural traits, practices, values, or a language of a particular group that generally is powerless to the destruction to occur.  Most informed people are aware of the U.S. policy of attempting to wipe out the use of the indigenous languages and to try to “kill the Indian” not by a physical extermination which failed, but by attempting to destroy their culture and language by forcibly removing children by their homes and placing them in homes of white English speaking Americans and to make these Indian children “white.”

At CSUB there is not the presence of a sufficient number of Latino / Hispanic administrators to effectively debate, oppose, and block this action.  Everyone knows that the lack of  Latino /Hispanic administrators on your staff is a fact which at the same time in incredible in light of the fact that your administration has grown 45% since 2000 according to CFA statistics.   It has obvious that faculty have not been listened to,  according to reports that have come from the campus. Students oppose this action.   This  action of a university which goes contrary to its mission of reflecting the diversity of its community and student body in the programs it develops, maintains, and protects is highly troubling.  Hence, the potential destruction of the curricular program of languages and their academic connections to other courses like in education and Chicano Studies  at an institution of higher education where its’ study contributes to the following points listed below can be seen as difficult to comprehend and academically impossible to fathom.

(1) the language program contributes to our national security, according to several U.S.             Presidential task groups;

(2)  These language programs contribute to an economic, political, and social  necessity          where a huge percentage of our state, regional, and national population engages and      communicates  in Spanish and with the additional realization that Latin America has             several hundred million people whose mother tongue is Spanish;

(3) the study of languages also contributes to an understanding  and usage of another             language that contributes to the life-long enrichment of our students and community.

Analysis of the size of department enrollments and the use these figures as a justification to drop these programs is a bogus argument.  There are departments that are smaller on campus, and no other CSU campus is contemplating this action.  So everyone is asking  “What is the rationale for this proposed decision?”  “It can not be an academic curricular  one,” many students, faculty, and community persons declare.  “It can not be enrollments”- state and university statistics counter this argument.  Many people have argued that  this proposed action is a direct attack against the Latino / Hispanic community.  I personally hope and pray that this is not the case, although I must inform you that since the proposal does not make sense that many people have reached certain conclusions.

In the twenty-first century in California where there are projections for the continued growth of the Latino / Hispanic population in communities and schools at all levels where we are indeed seeing the “browning of America” demographically speaking, the elimination of these programs is unfathomable that they could even be contemplated. It should also be noted that cuts and elimination of these programs would effectively cut the number of Latino / Hispanic faculty at CSUB.

Thirdly, how can a university claim that the destruction or elimination  of a program that took decades to develop keeps intact its mission philosophically speaking aligned with the need to meet the standards of “diversity and excellence?”

I believe that in addition to having a dialogue on campus regarding this issue between your administrative staff and your faculty, you would be wise to consider involving students and the community.  Then no one could charge you with not being transparent and engaging all parties concerned with this profound and important matter.  I am available to assist with this task if I am called upon.  I feel deeply about this matter.

As the President of CSUB, you have two basic choices.  You can support the recommendations of your administrative staff which are flawed and contrary to the aims and mission of our local CSU campus..  Or you can make history and win the positive acclaim of the Latino academic and general community by rejecting these insane and ludicrous recommendations as dangerous and counter-productive to the aim and mission of a university.  If you choose to reject these academically corrupt ideas of contributing to an institutional cultural genocide you could be truly considered an enlightened and wise university president.  You have a choice.  Your decision will probably be the most important of your career.  How do you wish to be remembered?


Dr. Jess G. Nieto

Executive Director

Heritage of America Educational & Cultural Foundation

CSUB – Modern Language Programs – Dr. Jess G. Nieto Executive Director Heritage of America Educational & Cultural Foundation

15 10 2009

Dear Mitchell,

I was shocked and  dismayed to learn about the proposal for certain programs (foreign language programs, Chicano Studies and other ethnic studies programs)  to be eliminated at CSUB due to the current financial crisis at the CSU system.  I cannot understand why something of this nature is even being considered.

I will attend the  meeting planned for tonight at CSUB to learn more about the crisis, to protest theses actions, and I will distribute this information to others in the community.  I strongly urge that you not give in as President of the University to those around you who may have been advising you to support this action.  I assure you that this potential action would create an enormous tsunami of political and social protest from many different segments  of the community.  The University would be harmed irreparably and would create deep and profound community and academic wounds that perhaps would never heal.

Once again, as President of the University, I believe strongly that you  must provide leadership to see that these types of programs are not jeopardized or negatively affected.

Dr. Jess G. Nieto
Executive Director
Heritage of America Educational & Cultural Foundation

Save CSUB Modern Languages Program

15 10 2009

CSUB is facing a difficult budget situation.  Among one of the most striking proposed cuts is the complete dismantling of the Modern Languages Program.  The Modern Language program has been under fire for years by some Administrators on campus–and although, this program commands more majors than a few other programs on campus (100 majors–compared to others with only 20 to 60 majors)–this is the program they’re targeted for termination.  The Dean of HSS met with the Chair of the Modern Languages Dept. and said he would recommend a moratorium on majors in their program–effectively, killing the program.

I, like other colleagues and community members, am wondering how you can have a comprehensive university without a languages program?  If they implement plans to terminate Modern Languages at CSUB–our campus will be the ONLY CSU without a language program (all CSUs, with the exception of the specialized Maritime College, have substantial language programs).  In fact, even CSUs located in largely white, affluent communities have a strong commitment to language programs (CSU-Monterey Bay, CSU-Sonoma, CSU-Northridge…the list goes on and on).  Yet, at CSUB where Latino undergraduate students represent the largest plurality of students on campus, and the university is nestled within a sizeable Latino community, Administrators propose to eliminate a Spanish program that is so representative of our community?

This is in direct opposition to our University’s mission statement on “excellence and diversity.”  Perhaps this proposed cut of Modern Languages is in part due to our total lack of representation on the President’s cabinet–not one Hispanic on that Administrative board to speak on our community’s behalf (we’re down to zero representation of Mexican-Americans; notably the largest plurality on campus, in this region and in the state!; and this in light of CFA stats indicating a 45% increase in administrative positions at CSUB since 2000).  At a university where our community represents most of the student body (their enrollments in fact largely FUND this campus)–this proposed cut is outrageous.  The lack of representation given us is exponentially felt because if slated cuts occur Latino/a faculty (over the next years) could well be disproportionately hit by such Administrative actions (in Modern Languages and other programs as well).  This is very troubling.

The Modern Languages and Literatures program serves as an important entry point to higher education for a vital student demographic on campus, Latina students (who now represent the largest plurality in CSUB’s student body).   This student demographic has been historically underserved and if a moratorium on language majors is implemented this group will be most disenfranchised as a result of such an Administrative action.  It can’t be underscored enough that the Modern Languages and Literature program is unique in exemplifying through its curriculum, and more so than any other program on campus, the diversity of our student population and that of the local region (which remains the most significant contributor to campus enrollments).  It took decades to build this program within a community that has long struggled to secure access to curricular representation on this campus.

Cutting this program is tantamount to cutting curriculum in Women Studies, African American Studies and Asian American studies—because it would in fact terminate Spanish language and literatures and Chicano Studies on this campus.  How is the goal of promoting excellence and diversity served if the educational needs of single largest plurality, Hispanic students, at CSUB are dismissed by Administrators?  The potential to irrevocably harm the educational interests of Hispanic students and the local Hispanic community demands serious considerations.

In this multicultural era, it is unimaginable that Hispanic educational needs (proposed cut of culturally meaningful curriculum–the Spanish program and Chicano Studies) are being challenged at CSUB—when no such challenge exists at other CSU campuses.  Even CSUs serving affluent white communities have attempted to better represent Hispanic population interests (particularly since they’re now the largest minority group in America), yet Administrators on this campus plan to terminate this language program?

The mission of “excellence and diversity” must be seen in actions—not words.  Diversity means action, not rhetoric.  And any actions taken by the present Administration to undercut the curriculum delivery needs of Hispanics on campus will have longstanding negative consequences for this ethnic minority and for all students that are left without access to language programs that prepare them for participation in a culturally diverse society (a point well recognized by other CSUs as evidenced by their commitment to comprehensive language programs).

Please express your solidarity with the Modern Languages Program by attending the “Informational Meeting” that Jose Reyna has scheduled on Thursday, October 15, 2009 @ 7:30pm–YES it’s on FURLOUGH DAY (this way the meeting will not interfere with class time for students in the ML program).  Invite others to join us as well–all are welcome to attend this informational discussion…our colleagues on and off campus.

And/or send an email message directly to Pres. Mitchell to express your concerns about this proposed cut and ask him to NOT APPROVE THE MORATORIUM ON MODERN LANGUAGES AND LITERATURES MAJORS that would terminate this program:

CSU’s throughout the state are scheduling action days to challenge proposed budget cuts (…it’s correct to challenge our Administrators to find alternatives to such drastic measures that as history indicates, if implemented are irreversible.  To borrow a phrase being used by another CSU campus, “It took 40 years to build and 4 months to destroy.”  We can’t afford not to act in solidarity…we may not have much of a university left.

For more information on the problems we’re facing at CSUB, see the Californian’s recent article on Administrative Growth and Faculty Reductions:

United We Stand,

What is the Mission of CSU Bakersfield?

13 10 2009

CSU_BakersfieldCSUB is planning the elimination of the Dept. of Modern Languages
which teaches courses in Spanish, as well as Latina American Literature; Latin American Studies:
Chicano Literature; etc. (The Dept. also teaches French).

CSUB is classified as a Regional COMPREHENSIVE UNIVERSITY, its CSU Mission is to
serving the Southern San Joaquin Valley and beyond.

— Can one have a “comprehensive university” that does not teach languages?
— In today’s world, and  especially in CALIFORNIA and the San Joaquin Valley,
does the elimination of language instruction make sense?
— How does this reflect and advance the CSU Mission?


As many of you may already know, the CSU is in a serious financial crisis that is affecting many people and many programs throughout the system. At CSUB, major cuts to academic programs are being planned for the very near future. Some of you may have also heard that one of the most important programs to be put on the chopping block is our beloved Spanish program — both our Bachelor of Arts program and our Master of Arts program. This would, of course, deal a devastating blow not only to our students and to this university, but also to the entire Latino community.
In order to provide the latest and most accurate information on the status of our Spanish program, and especially on the future of the department, I have decided to schedule an “Informational Meeting.”

Date: Thursday October 15
Time: 7:30 P.M.
Place: Business Development Center (BDC) Rm. 153 (large lecture hall)

José R. Reyna, Ph.D.
Chair and Professor of Spanish
California State University, Bakersfield
9001 Stockdale Hwy
Bakersfield, CA 93311-1099

CSUB’s Hispanic Excellence Scholarship Fund celebrates 25 years of student support

18 09 2008

AUG. 26, 2008
CONTACT: Kathy Miller, 661/654-2456,,
or Jaclyn Hernandez, 661/654-2138,

The Hispanic Excellence Scholarship Fund at California State University, Bakersfield will host its 25th annual awards dinner on Saturday, Sept. 20, at The DoubleTree Hotel at 6 p.m.

The HESF was established at the university in 1984 by CSU President Emeritus Tomás Arciniega to increase access to a college education for academically outstanding, financially needy, local students who demonstrate strong leadership potential. In its first year, nine students were awarded scholarships; since then, the program has grown and provided more than $2 million in scholarships to more than 1,000 students.

Thomas Martínez, chair of the public administration department, said the scholarship program has been very successful. “Due to the growing support of local businesses and individuals, the CSUB President’s Scholarship Matching Program, and endowment collaboration with the national Hispanic Scholarship Fund, our scholarship fund has become one of the premier scholarship programs of its kind,” he said. “This year 80 students will be awarded scholarship totaling $130,000. Most importantly, at the award dinner, the hard work and academic excellence of financially needy local students will be recognized.”

The HESF Advisory Board is comprised of local business, education, and community leaders. Supporters of this event include State Farm Insurance, Bright House Networks, Univision, Allstate and Chevron.

Arciniega will be the keynote speaker for this year’s event. Tickets for the dinner are $60. To purchase tickets or to obtain sponsorship information, please call (661) 654-3406 or log on to

“25th Anniversary CSUB-HESF Scholarship Awards Dinner”
Saturday, September 20, 2008
6:00 p.m. Social ~ 7:00 p.m. Dinner
The DoubleTree Hotel
Rosedale Highway at Highway 99
Phone: 654-3406