TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Florida’s Board of Education approved several new controversial rules Wednesday in Orlando.
This upcoming school year will be unlike any other in Florida history due to the board’s changes, as well as laws passed by the legislature and signed by Gov. Ron DeSantis.
One rule that’s getting pushback changes the standards of instruction of African American history. Critics say the new standards attempt rewrite Black history, but those backing the changes say they include “the good, the bad and the ugly.”
Several Democratic state lawmakers attended the board’s meeting on Wednesday. Each disagreed with the standards and took particular issue with one instructional change that would include “how slaves developed skills which, in some instances, could be applied for their personal benefit.”
“Any kind of standards that indicate that slavery benefited Black people is such an insult,” State Rep. Rita Harris said.
“The notion that enslaved people benefitted from being enslaved is inaccurate and a scary standard for us to establish in our education system.” State Rep. Anna Eskamani said.
The rule also got pushback from a coalition of Black leaders and community groups who sent a letter to the board alleging the standards “purposefully omit or rewrite key historical facts about the Black experience.”
“The state through the leadership of Governor DeSantis has really created a culture in which people are okay with questioning whether or not there’s value in Black studies,” Equal Ground political director Genesis Robinson said.
Florida’s Education Commissioner Manny Diaz pushed back on the criticism, noting the new standards lengthy approval process.
The new rule on African American history instruction, alongside several others will be implemented in classrooms across the state come this school year.