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Saturday, May 25, 2024

Florida Board of Education releases new standards for Black history curriculum

School instruction will be prohibited from acknowledging historical privilege or oppression.

Senator Geraldine Thompson, addresses the State Board of Education about Florida's State Academic Standards and teaching African American studies to public schools students in Orlando, Fla., Wednesday, July 19, 2023. The State Board of Education was meeting in Orlando to adopt a number of rules required by new state laws. (Willie J. Allen Jr./Orlando Sentinel via AP)
Senator Geraldine Thompson, addresses the State Board of Education about Florida's State Academic Standards and teaching African American studies to public schools students in Orlando, Fla., Wednesday, July 19, 2023. The State Board of Education was meeting in Orlando to adopt a number of rules required by new state laws. (Willie J. Allen Jr./Orlando Sentinel via AP)

The Florida Board of Education issued a new set of standards for African American history instruction in Florida public schools, evoking controversy about how students should be learning about American history.

The standard was approved for the K-12 curriculum at an Orlando board meeting July 19.

The curriculum is the latest development in Florida’s continuous debate about Black history, following Gov. Ron DeSantis' administration blocking a preparatory version of Advanced Placement African American Studies from Florida classrooms earlier this year.

The newly reviewed curriculum was issued after the state passed new legislation under DeSantis that prohibits school instruction from suggesting anyone is privileged or oppressed based on their race or skin color.

The new standards require curriculum for middle school students to include “how slaves developed skills which, in some instances, could be applied for their personal benefit,” according to a document listing the curriculum posted on the Florida Department of Education.

Alex Lanfranconi, the director of communications for the Florida Department of Education, made a statement about the department’s decision.

“We are proud of the rigorous process that the department took to develop these standards,” Lanfranconi said.

Lanfranconi also acknowledged the standards were created by a group of 13 educators and academics in the statement.

“It’s sad to see critics attempt to discredit what any unbiased observer would conclude to be in-depth and comprehensive African American History standards,” Lanfranconi said. “They incorporate all components of African American History: the good, the bad and the ugly.”

NAACP President and CEO Derrick Johnson publicly condemned the new curriculum in a release statement.

“It is imperative that we understand that the horrors of slavery and Jim Crow were a violation of human rights and represent the darkest period in American history,” Johnson said.

The Florida Education Association, a statewide teachers union, referred to the newly passed curriculum as a disservice to students. Andrew Spar, the association’s president, tweeted a statement about the curriculum.

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“How can our students ever be equipped for the future if they don’t have a full, honest picture of where we’ve come from?” Spar said. “Florida’s students deserve a world-class education that equips them to be successful adults who can help heal our nation’s divisions rather than deepen them.”

The curriculum’s approval adds to the continued debate over DeSantis' “woke agenda” and its embedment into his candidacy for the Republican presidential nomination.

Contact Nicole at nbeltran@alligator.org. Follow her on Twitter @nicolebeltg.

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Nicole Beltran

Nicole Beltran is a second-year journalism and economics major. This is her first semester as the race and equity reporter. She has previously worked as a translator and editor for El Caimán. In her free time, she enjoys watching movies, trying new foods and drawing.


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