Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Cisneros, Cisneros, AND Cisneros

The dust seems to have settled just ten days after the Texas State Board of Education voted on changes to be made to public school textbooks. In light of certain changes, it becomes more apparent that our mission to continue making the names of Latino writers known to children in Texas and beyond is more important than ever.

From the San Antonio Express-News we read, “Textbook vote boots Cisneros.” This is Texas we’re talking about, so the reference to boots is not surprising. But what doesn’t make sense to us, as a publisher of not only Latino literature but a fairly new book by [Henry] Cisneros, is that the first Hispanic mayor of a large U.S. city who was also selected to serve as the nation’s Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, is not going to be referenced in textbooks because he hasn’t “done anything” in recent years. We don’t think so; the book he edited, Latinos and the Nation’s Future, demonstrates that he is still an influential voice on public policy matters.

And author Sandra Cisneros will no longer be mentioned in textbooks. We published her seminal work, The House on Mango Street, in 1985. It’s likely that the book will still be required reading for students, but they will not learn about her in social studies courses as an example of a Texas artist. It’s not easy to understand the logic behind the decision, but we are very pleased that author Diane Gonzales Bertrand will now be included in new textbooks.

The business of removing and adding names to history books is clearly not so clear. It is obvious that it’s a politically motivated process. As it stands, Henry Cisneros and Sandra Cisneros will be (final decision after a public hearing in March) erased from social studies books. And we will forge ahead, as an outlet for the voices of Latino writers. One in particular happens to be another Cisneros. Carlos Cisneros is the author of a forthcoming legal thriller, The Name Partner. More on him and the book soon.

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