Race in America

Florida Board of Education approves new Black History standards

A coalition of groups, including the Florida Education Association Teachers Union, is calling for the rejection and redrafting of the standards.

Florida Board of Education approves new Black History standards
Lynne Sladky / AP

Vice President Kamala Harris is heading to Florida on Friday to speak on protecting the freedom to learn and teach the country's history.

The visit comes after the state's Board of Education approved a controversial new curriculum for African American history.

Wednesday’s vote was unanimous.

Education Commissioner Manny Diaz Jr. vehemently defended the decision.

"If anyone takes the time to actually look at the standards, you can see that everything is covered. From elementary school, where we start talking about those who have been prominent African Americans, and as age appropriate, we go into some of the tougher subjects, all the way into the beginnings of the slave trade, Jim Crow laws, civil rights movement, everything that occurred throughout our history," said Diaz Jr.

But education and civil rights advocates say otherwise. Arguing that key historical facts about the Black experience are missing from this new curriculum and that students should be allowed to learn the full truth of American history.

Democrats introduce bills intended to bolster Black history education
Democrats introduce bills intended to bolster Black history education

Democrats introduce bills intended to bolster Black history education

Advocates for the legislation said it would invest $10 million over five years in the National Museum of African American History and Culture.

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"We have an obligation to continue to speak up and lift our voices and let the state know that they owe a responsibility to adhere to the Florida statute and teach Black history in its fullness," said Genesis Robinson of Equal Ground Florida.

Perhaps the biggest issue for critics is a section in the state’s summary of the new standards that includes instruction on "how slaves developed skills which, in some instances, could be applied to their personal benefit."

A coalition of groups, including the Florida Education Association Teachers Union, is calling for the rejection and redrafting of the standards.

The battle over the new curriculum is the latest in the ongoing dispute between Gov. Ron DeSantis and Florida’s African American communities and educators.

Last year, DeSantis signed the "Stop WOKE Act," a piece of legislation that restricts how race is discussed in schools and workplaces.

It prohibits instruction that could make people feel they "bear responsibility" for historic wrongdoings because of their race, sex, or national origin.

Earlier this year, the education department rejected a pilot version of an AP African American Studies course, saying it lacked educational value.