New Curriculum Standards Issued
Just before the start of the 2023 school year, the Florida Board of Education sparked controversy when a new set of standards was issued for the instruction on African American history in middle school classrooms.
What’s New in the Standards
The new standards require middle school curriculum to include “how slaves developed skills which, in some instances, could be applied for their personal benefit.”
Making Light of Slavery
Many critics have said this statement is an attempt to make light of slavery and that it masks the true horrors slaves went through.
Critics Are Upset
Those who are against the new set of standards in Florida say slaves who were raped, tortured, and killed did not benefit from slavery. Skills and jobs were forced upon the slaves; it wasn’t optional or something fun they chose to learn.
Horrific Nature of Slavery
One TikTokker said “framing learned skills as some kind of a perk to being enslaved only downplays the horrific nature of slavery and we should be wary of people who want to do that.”
Kamala Harris Visits Florida
The new standards drew much criticism over implying that slaves could have somehow benefited from captivity and slavery.
Vice President Kamala Harris was appalled when she read the new Florida curriculum standards. She took a last-minute trip to Jacksonville, Florida to express her objections in person.
Harris Calls Out Florida Leaders
In her speech, Harris said “they want to replace history with lies” when referring to the leaders who approved the new standards for how Black history will be taught in Florida public schools. She also accused them of gaslighting and pushing propaganda on the children.
Face History – Don’t Forget It
Harris urged Americans to face history rather than forget it. “Our history as a nation is born out of tragedy and triumph. That’s who we are. Part of that is what gives us our grit,” she said in her closing statements.
Teacher’s Union Expresses Concern on New Standards
Even the Florida Education Association, which is the state’s largest teacher’s union, called the new standards “a step backward” and said students “deserve the full truth of American history…”
The state has required schools to teach African American history since 1994 and the teacher’s union sees this new agenda as a disservice to the students.
Students Won’t Be Required to Learn as Much
Per the new standards, students will only be expected to identify famous historical African Americans.
They won’t be required to learn about their histories or why these people are important. One woman on TikTok disagreed with this particular section of the new standards.
Learning Is a “True Privilege”
She says learning about who makes up our history is the “true privilege” of learning.
She doesn’t think what students learn in school should be impeded by whatever political bias is happening in the world.
Children will never be equipped for the future if they don’t learn the truth about African American history.
Tiktokers Suggest Boycotting Florida
The comments on TikTok are calling for a total boycott of Florida suggesting people not travel there.
People feel these new standards are disrespectful and diminishing to African American history and should not be supported.
Travel Advisory Issued for Florida
In May, the NAACP issued a formal travel advisory for Florida stating “Florida is openly hostile toward African Americans, people of color and LGBTQ+ individuals.”
The NAACP said their travel advisory was a direct response to Governor Ron DeSantis’ attempts to erase Black history and to restrict diversity and inclusion programs in Florida schools.
Ron DeSantis Defends the New Standards
DeSantis said the new curriculum standards are being misinterpreted and he accused Kamala Harris of lying about what the state’s standards are.
According to DeSantis, the students in Florida will be taught under the provision that “enslaved people received the skills in spite of slavery, not because of it.”
Controversy Is Not New to Florida
Ron DeSantis and the state of Florida have been at the center of many political controversies in the recent months and years. The state has passed many controversial laws related to immigration, the LGBTQ+ community, gun carrying, and abortion.
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Featured Image Credit: Shutterstock / lev radin. The people shown in the images are for illustrative purposes only, not the actual people featured in the story.