Vice President Kamala Harris will travel to Florida Friday to speak out against the state's new Black history standards, which she called "an attempt to gaslight."
The White House said in an announcement that the trip will call attention to efforts to "protect fundamental freedoms, specifically, the freedom to learn and teach America’s full and true history." Harris will also visit with parents, educators, civil rights leaders, and elected officials.
“Just yesterday in the state of Florida, they decided middle school students will be taught that enslaved people benefited from slavery,” she said at a convention for the traditionally Black sorority Delta Sigma Theta Inc. “They insult us in an attempt to gaslight us, and we will not stand for it.”
Florida’s Board of Education approved new Black History curriculum standards Wednesday. The new guidelines followed 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.”
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.”