Florida’s Board of Education approved new Black History curriculum standards Wednesday, which critics are calling “a big step backward.”
The new guidelines come after the implementation of a conservative-backed law that mandates lessons on race be taught in an “objective” manner that does not attempt to “indoctrinate or persuade students to a particular point of view.”
In January, Florida blocked a nationally taught African American History Advanced Placement course from being taught in the state, saying it “lacks educational value.” Governor Ron DeSantis accused the College Board of promoting a "political agenda" with topics such as Black queer studies and intersectionality.
The African American history standards in Florida now include “benchmark clarifications,” which provide additional information to educators on how to address certain topics. One such benchmark instructs them to teach students “how slaves developed skills which, in some instances, could be applied for their personal benefit.”
Another “benchmark clarification” directs teachers to discuss “acts of violence perpetrated against and by African Americans” in lessons focused on the destruction of Black communities during Reconstruction.
The Florida Education Association, the state's teachers union, said in a statement Wednesday that the new standards are “a big step backward.”
“The Florida State Board of Education today adopted new African American history standards. In doing so, they confirmed many of the worst fears educators had when the Stop Woke Act was signed into law last year,” they wrote. “These new standards are a disservice to Florida’s students and are a big step backward for a state that has required teaching African American history since 1994.”
FEA president Andrew Spar said in the statement: “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? 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.”
“Gov. [Ron] DeSantis is pursuing a political agenda guaranteed to set good people against one another, and in the process he’s cheating our kids," he continued. "They deserve the full truth of American history, the good and the bad."