Eighty-seven percent of major events and topics in Latino history were either excluded from high school history textbooks or only briefly mentioned, according to a recent study by the Johns Hopkins University’s Institute for Education Policy and the Latino civil rights organization UnidosUS.
Overall, the only major development sampled textbooks mentioned was Sonia Sotomayor’s Supreme Court appointment. Topics such as the U.S.’s purchase of land, and the role Latinos played during the civil rights movement were ignored.
The Mexican War, the building of the Panama Canal, and Puerto Rico’s status as a territory were also largely ignored or only briefly mentioned.
“As the country grows more diverse, it’s essential for our future workers, businesspeople, community leaders, and public officials to learn about the contributions and experiences of all Americans, including Latinos, the country’s largest racial/ethnic minority,” Viviana Lopez Green, Senior Director of the Racial Equity Initiative at UnidosUS, said.
The study scrutinized U.S. history textbooks, as well as an AP history textbook, using a rubric experts developed.
The scholars examined the depiction of Latinos, contributions to U.S. history, as well as the extent and degree to which the books included them in telling history overall. Language’s complexity and the legitimacy of images used were also a concern.
“The American Latino experience must be accurately depicted to our young people in the classroom if we want them to grow up in a society that recognizes and values the contributions made by people of color,” José Gregory, a history teacher and project consultant, said.