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Mexican American School Boards Association

Teresa Palomo Acosta General Entry

The Mexican American School Boards Association (MASBA) was founded in 1970 by José A. Cárdenas, superintendent of the Edgewood Independent School District in San Antonio. Although Mexican Americans were a substantial part of the population, they were poorly represented on most public school boards in the state. In the early 1970s, for instance, only around 400, or 4 percent, of 10,000 school board members in 1,400 school districts were Mexican Americans. MASBA incorporated on December 6, 1973, with the financial support of the National Education Task Force de la Raza and Clemente Saenz, agent for the American Lutheran Church, to promote educational opportunities for all public school children. Headquarters were at St. Edward's University in Austin. A fourteen-member board of directors, headed by Ruben Hinojosa of the Mercedes ISD, the organization's president, oversaw its operations. Chris Escamilla, an Edgewood ISD board member, became its executive director. Membership was open to board members whose school districts had a sizable percentage of minority students. On February 8–9, 1975, MASBMA and other Mexican-American organizations sponsored a conference on the education of Hispanics. MASBMA organized similar efforts to implement its goals. It acted as a consultant to the priorities committee of the state board of education and sought to implement the United States Civil Rights Commission's report Toward Quality Education for Mexican Americans. In addition, with the Intercultural Development Research Association of San Antonio, it developed and ran a program to train Mexican-American school-board members in effective leadership through 1987. Funds to support its activities came from the Intercultural Development Research Association, affiliated with the Ford Foundation, the Carnegie Corporation of New York, the National Education Task Force de la Raza, and other groups. Numerous MASBMA members were prominent Mexican Americans in the state. They included Gustavo García, later a member of the Austin City Council, Alicia Chacón, who served as an official with the federal Social Security Administration, Frank Madla, a member of the Texas legislature, and José Ángel Gutiérrez, a founder of the Raza Unida party.

In 1993, after a brief hiatus, MASBA once more took up its advocacy on behalf of Mexican American students inspired, in part, by Mexican American student-led school walkouts calling for equality. With longstanding support from the Texas Association of School Boards, MASBA continued to achieve significant accomplishments throughout the 2000s and positively impacted Mexican American students across the state of Texas. In 2006 the organization began a decade-long struggle to include mariachi music in the University Interscholastic League (UIL). After promoting this culturally important genre through MASBA-sponsored competitions initiated in 2010, the organization convinced the UIL to include mariachi, beginning with the school year of 2015–16. Committed to rectifying the historical representation of Mexican American history in public schools, in 2016 MASBA helped defeat a proposal before the Texas State Board of Education to adopt the textbook Mexican American Heritage that was deemed racist. With University of Texas history professor Emilio Zamora, the organization developed a Mexican American and Tejano curriculum for public schools. In 2018 the organization was a leader in convincing the Texas State Board of Education to formulate Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills for “Ethnic Studies: Mexican American Studies.” This action endorsed a one-credit course in Mexican American history.

By 2020 MASBA included ninety-five school districts and education service districts in the state. The organization created scholarships to support graduating seniors whose schools were affiliated with the organization. In 2019 MASBA awarded more than eighty scholarships to college-bound students. Moreover, since 1999 MASBA has conducted annual conferences that ensure the organization’s vitality. The 2020 publication Viva la Lucha: Personal Reflections on the Fiftieth Anniversary of the Mexican American School Boards Association, as told to and transcribed by Dr. Jayme Mathias captured the personal reflections on key endeavors by many of the organization’s leaders. In 2020 MASBA celebrated fifty years of strong leadership and a legacy of significant achievements.


Martha Cotera Papers, Benson Latin American Collection, University of Texas at Austin. José Ángel Gutiérrez Papers, Benson Latin American Collection, University of Texas at Austin. Mexican American School Boards Association (https://masbatx.org), accessed May 23, 2020. Viva la Lucha: Personal Reflections on the Fiftieth Anniversary of the Mexican American School Boards Association, as told to and transcribed by Dr. Jayme Mathias, Dr. Marcedes de Uriarte, ed., (Austin: Mexican American School Boards Association, 2020).

Categories:

  • Education
  • Organizations
  • Associations
  • Societies
  • Peoples
  • Mexican Americans

Time Periods:

  • Texas Post World War II
  • Texas in the 21st Century

Places:

  • Austin
  • Central Texas

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Teresa Palomo Acosta, “Mexican American School Boards Association,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed June 22, 2021, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/mexican-american-school-boards-association.

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April 1, 1995
May 28, 2020

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