Florida Bans Critical Race Theory From Schools
Florida becomes the latest Republican-led state to target the teaching of critical race theory, which is a framework for how racism is embedded in American culture.
Florida voted to ban certain teachings known as “critical race theory” from classrooms after Gov. Ron DeSantis claimed that “the woke class wants to teach kids to hate each other.” Florida joins other Republian-led states that have made similar attacks on expanding teachings of racism in America.
The Florida State Board of Education, which is made up of mostly DeSantis appointees, voted unanimously on Thursday to adopt an amendment that would prohibit teaching critical race theory, which is a framework for how racism is embedded in American culture.
Florida’s approved amendment mandates that educators “teach the required instruction topics efficiently and faithfully, using materials that meet the highest standards of professionalism and historical accuracy.” The amendment added that educators must be “factual and objective” when teaching topics including the Holocaust, slavery, the Civil War, and other significant events.
The change came at the behest of DeSantis, who spoke at Thursday’s board meeting and has been vocal about his plan to keep the teaching out of Florida classrooms.
“We have to do history that is factual,” DeSantis said during a video conference at the board meeting. “We’ve got to have an education system that is preferring fact over narrative.”
DeSantis also said parts of the country that are actively teaching critical race theory are bringing “ideology and political activism into the forefront of education.”
“I find it unthinkable that there are other people in positions of leadership in the federal government who believe that we should teach kids to hate our country,” DeSantis said in a statement. “We will not stand for it here in Florida.”
Florida specifically banned the teaching of The 1619 Project, a New York Times Pulitzer-prize winning report on slavery that conservatives, including former President Donald Trump, have painted as “anti-American” and “a web of lies.”
The project was published in 2019, on the 400th anniversary of when the first ship carrying enslaved Africans landed in the American colonies. The Pulitzer Center wrote that the project “challenges us to reframe U.S. history by marking the year when the first enslaved Africans arrived on Virginia soil as our nation's foundational date.”
The amendment in Florida said that “instruction may not utilize material from The 1619 Project and may not define American history as something other than the creation of a new nation based largely on universal principles stated in the Declaration of Independence.”
Meanwhile, supporters of critical race theory have said the bans limit educators from having important discussions centering around race with students.
An op-ed published this week in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution criticized Georgia’s Gov. Brian Kemp (R) and the board of education, saying they “manipulated education and history for political gain and essentially told children of color in Georgia that their experiences are neither valid nor important.”
A research report by the Southern Poverty Law Center in 2018 found that “high school students don’t know much about the history of slavery in the United States, with only 8 percent able to identify it as the central cause of the Civil War.” The report also found that teachers themselves (82% of whom are white, according to the report’s publishing) struggle with how to properly talk to students about slavery and racism.