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Florida Slammed After Approving History Standards Saying Slaves Got 'Personal Benefit' From Slavery

The new teaching standards for K-12 schools comes after the Florida Board of Education banned Advanced Placement African American Studies in schools.

Ron DeSantis
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The Florida Board of Education has recently approved a set of academic standards for African American social studies classes in K-12 schools, sparking heated controversy. The move comes amid an ongoing crusade against public education by GOP Governor Ron DeSantis and other Florida Republicans.

The approved standards have drawn criticism for their wording, particularly in relation to the history of slavery. One specific passage in the standards guide states that "slaves developed skills which, in some instances, could be applied for their personal benefit."

The standards also mention "violence perpetrated against and by African Americans," but fall short of requiring students to fully grasp the complexities of their contributions, challenges, and overall stories. This omission has raised concerns about the depth of the curriculum and the potential perpetuation of incomplete narratives.

Earlier this year, the Florida Board of Education banned the teaching of Advanced Placement African American Studies in high schools across the state.

The decision was met with backlash as the AP course provides a more comprehensive and inclusive approach to African American history, including contributions from scholars like Kimberlé Crenshaw, bell hooks, Angela Davis, and exploration of Black queer studies and intersectionality.

Critics argue that this language downplays the brutal reality of slavery and fails to provide a comprehensive and accurate understanding of African American history.

A coalition of 11 organizations, including the NAACP and the Florida Education Association, expressed their disapproval of the decision in a letter to the board president.

The organizations stressed the importance of providing students with an "unvarnished" and comprehensive understanding of the state and country's history, acknowledging both the positive and negative contributions.

The Florida Education Association expressed its concerns with the approved standards, arguing that they present a skewed version of history and put Florida students at a disadvantage.

Andrew Spar, president of the Florida Education Association, questioned how students could be prepared for the future without a full and honest understanding of their country's past:

“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."
“Gov. DeSantis is pursuing a political agenda guaranteed to set good people against one another, and in the process he’s cheating our kids. They deserve the full truth of American history, the good and the bad."

DeSantis, who has declared his candidacy for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, has been at the forefront of these educational policy changes.

Many have over the last couple of years in particular accused DeSantis of pursuing a political agenda that undermines the integrity of education and fails to provide students with a well-rounded and accurate portrayal of American history.