The Florida Department of Education (DOE) reportedly amended its requirements for teaching African-American studies on Wednesday, but the state’s teachers union objected.
The K–12 social studies standards for African American history were discussed during a more than one-hour public comment period hosted by the Florida State Board of Education.
Although “a majority of speakers opposed” the proposed requirements, the board finally voted unanimously to accept them.
According to MaryLynn Magar, who was selected by Governor Ron DeSantis to serve on the State Board of Education in March, the most heinous episodes in American history are included in the recently revised standards.
“Everything is there. The darkest parts of our history are addressed, and I’m very proud of the task force. I can confidently say that the DOE and the task force believe that African American history is American history, and that’s represented in those standards.” Magar said.
The Florida Education Association (FEA), the state’s largest teachers organization, issued a press statement after the criteria were made public that targeted DeSantis.
“Specific concerns” with the African American history standards were listed by the FEA.
The DeSantis Administration issued a point by point refutation of the criticism in a statement it released to Fox News:
“The FEA, fresh off another defeat in court, is just looking to convince educators that they have any shred of usefulness left as an organization,” said Alex Lanfranconi, the Director of Communications at Florida Dept. of Education. “Every standard, benchmark and benchmark clarification was developed using a methodical process within our workgroup. Our workgroup began in February and worked through May to ensure the new standards provide comprehensive and rigorous instruction on African American History. We proudly stand behind these African American History Standards.” the statement read.
“There have been questions raised about language within a benchmark clarification of standard SS.68.AA.2.3, which says ‘Instruction includes how slaves developed skills which, in some instances, could be applied for their personal benefit. The intent of this particular benchmark clarification is to show that some slaves developed highly specialized trades from which they benefited. This is factual and well-documented. Some examples include: blacksmiths like Ned Cobb, Henry Blair, Lewis Latimer and John Henry; shoemakers like James Forten, Paul Cuffe and Betty Washington Lewis; fishing and shipping industry workers like Jupiter Hammon, John Chavis, William Whipper and Crispus Attucks; tailors like Elizabeth Keckley, James Thomas and Marietta Carter; and teachers like Betsey Stockton and Booker T. Washington.” the statement concluded.