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Florida board votes to ban critical race theory from state classrooms

Leslie Postal, Orlando Sentinel on

Published in News & Features

The amended version of the rule was adopted unanimously.

Jacob Oliva, the chancellor for K-12 education at the Florida Department of Education, said the rule would make sure teachers follow state academic standards and do not “go rogue” in their classrooms.

But critics said it was an effort to keep students from learning an unvarnished version of American history.

“We will not allow you to call our history fake news because you can’t handle the truth,” a man from Osceola County told the board. “Black history is American history.”

DeSantis’ push for the new rule, in the view of critics, is a backlash, in part, against the protests for racial equality that roiled the country after the death of George Floyd last year and some school districts’ efforts to take a critical look at their own policies.

“Teaching the facts will bring the country together, not divide the country,” said Wells Todd of the Jacksonville Progressive Coalition, noting that while DeSantis mentioned slavery and civil rights in his address he did not acknowledge reconstruction, lynching and segregation, all of which should be taught.

 

“Students deserve the best education we can provide, and that means giving them a true picture of their world and our shared history as Americans. Hiding facts doesn’t change them,” said Andrew Spar, president of Florida’s teachers’ union, in a statement, issued Tuesday.

The Florida Education Association called the proposed rule insulting to teachers as well, because it says they cannot “indoctrinate” students, which Spar and others said doesn’t happen.

But supporters of the new rule said critical race theory was divisive and harmful.

“We all know it’s a Marxist tactic to divide our country by class and by race,” Bennett Brown, of the Florida Family Policy Council, told the board.

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