Round Rock Independent School District’s Mexican-American Studies course describes restrictions on immigration as oppression, claims the terms “undocumented” and “illegal” perpetuate stereotypes


Parents Defending Education recently obtained documents via public records request that detail the development of Round Rock Independent School District’s Mexican-American Studies curriculum. According to Round Rock ISD’s course catalog, the course, called “Advanced Ethnic Studies: Mexican American Studies” was offered as an elective to 9-12th grade students throughout the district in the 2023-2024 school year. It is currently listed in the course catalog for the 2024-2025 school year as well.

A unit guide for a unit entitled “Systems of Power and Oppression: Mexican American Studies” says that one of the learning outcomes for students is “I can describe how significant events from 1975 to present have strengthened systems of oppression against Mexican Americans, such as the strengthened immigration laws that made immigration from Mexico harder.” The unit guide with this outcome quoted is also linked in a slideshow used for teacher training and curriculum development.

Similarly, a unit map for a unit entitled “Resistance and Liberation” identifies DACA (a program that delays deportation for illegal aliens who came to the US when they were children, as well as making them eligible for work permits) as a form of resistance against oppression. A learning goal of the unit is “I can describe how significant events from 1975 to present have resisted systems of oppression against Mexican Americans, such as DACA and Texas Dreamers Act.”

The curriculum also seems to criticize the existence of immigration laws by highlighting the political organization “Jolt Texas” while teaching about its founder, Cristina Tzintzun Ramirez, in a unit on “Contributions of Mexican Americans to the American Identity.” Jolt Texas’s stated goals include ending “the criminalization of undocumented immigrants” along with advocating for a climate agenda, socialized healthcare, and tuition-free college education.

A summary of “Lesson 9D: Analyzing Identity Nomenclature: Mexican Americans and American Indians” claims that “The terms “illegal” and “undocumented” are often used to describe individuals who have entered or are residing in a country without proper legal authorization. However, these terms can carry negative connotations and may perpetuate stereotypes. It is important to approach these terms with sensitivity and recognize the complexity of immigration issues.”

A list of “Famous Mexican American Quotes” also takes issue with the term “illegal alien” by including a poem Luis Alberto Urrea: “Illegal Alien, adj./n. A term by which An invading colonial force Vilifies Indigenous cultures By identifying them as An invading colonial force.”

Suggested resources for the class listed in a slideshow on curriculum planning include several resources from activist organizations, including the resource “Teaching Tolerance” from the Southern Poverty Law Center’s “Learning for Justice” project. A teacher training slideshow entitled “Best Practices in Ethnic Studies” links to resources like “Creating Classrooms for Equity and Social Justice” from an organization called Rethinking Schools. The resource encourages teachers to make their classrooms “critical,” “antiracist,” and “activist,” and says that “a critical classroom should be a rainbow of resistance.”