In 2013, Cecilia Hill stood in front of a classroom packed with eighth graders. Then a first-year history teacher at Fort Worth’s McLean Middle School, she detailed the events surrounding the American Revolution — the tyrannical King George III, the Boston Tea Party, the Founding Fathers who met in secret to sign the Declaration of Independence.
A Latina student raised her hand: “Ms. Hill, were there any Mexicans that signed the Declaration of Independence?”
A boy in the class answered: “Nope.”
After teaching in Fort Worth for seven years, Hill is now a doctoral student in history at TCU. But part of her is still in that McLean classroom, which is one reason she is researching the ways in which Mexican and Mexican American experiences are presented in Texas schools.
A major component of Hill’s dissertation will focus on the origins of the social studies curriculum in the Fort Worth Independent School District.
“I am concentrating on how the curriculum, teachers and state-mandated standards reinforced schooling as a disciplinary mechanism,” Hill said, “to ensure loyalty to America and to uplift and enforce a white American identity.”
This examination of the forces that shaped and continue to play a role in creating the state’s academic standards is a culmination of Hill’s past research and experience within the public education system.