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New Florida Education Standards Say African-Americans Benefited from Slavery

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TALLAHASSEE – The Florida Department of Education is being met with criticism in recent weeks for backing material that some say whitewashes history. The standards, which have the full support of the Board of Education, include ideas such as African-American enslaved people having benefited from the skills they learned and that they bore responsibility for some violent incidents stemming from racial injustice in United States history.

Activists with organizations like the NAACP and state teachers’ unions are, predictably, unhappy with the language now being used in state curriculum. Critics allege that the state is watering down history to dampen the gravity of wrongdoings perpetuated against Black people by the U.S. government. The changes are likely being made in an attempt to comply with the ‘Stop WOKE Act’, a 2022 law which banned educational material that prompts “guilt, anguish, or any other form of psychological distress” due to race, color, sex, or nationality.

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Supporters of the change, such as Florida Education Commissioner Manny Diaz, claim that the new curriculum still addresses the darkest parts of American history, and do so in a way that’s appropriate for the students who will be learning about them.

The two passages which most angered critics of the policy read that, “slaves developed skills which, in some instances, could be applied for their personal benefit,” and that “acts of violence [were] perpetrated against and by African Americans” in several historical race massacres.

Multiple speakers at a Wednesday FDOE meeting discussing the changes attempted to convince the Board of Education that these statements constituted erasure of Black history. Democratic state lawmakers were among those who spoke, as were educators from across the state of Florida. Successive protests were not enough to stop the consensus of the Board, who ultimately gave their approval to the latest in a long line of significant changes to how social issues are taught in Florida.

Written By

Chris Gollon is a Flagler County resident since 2004, as well as a staple of the local independent music scene and avid observer of Central Florida politics, arts, and recreation.

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