TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Florida’s new standard for history education is raising questions across the state of Florida. Some are questioning what exactly students will be taught this upcoming school year.
Florida educators received the first training sessions on the new curriculum in June. It focused on civics and American history, highlighting moments in time like the creation of the U.S. Constitution and the Gettysburg Address.
“Overall, I would say for the most part it’s pretty benign, a pretty benign interpretation. For the most part, they were okay,” said Professor Fraser Ottanelli at USF.
He said the material gets problematic when it addresses the origins of slavery in the United States.
“The slides depiction of slavery in the new worlds, in the Americas is really essentially no different from how slavery was practiced in Europe and throughout the Mediterranean, which is not true.”
Ottanelli told 8 On Your Side another disturbing part of the material was it inferred slavery would inevitably disappear “because of the Declaration of Independence, and I would say the Constitution, which actually enshrines slavery.”
During a recent event in Sanford, Governor Ron Desantis said they’re focused on teaching American history without an agenda, but others feel these materials show the exact opposite.
“I felt like my history is trying to be erased,” said Yvette Lewis, President of the NAACP in Hillsborough County. “It may make people uncomfortable to talk about it, but history happened and it needs to be told.”
Lewis told 8 On Your Side she received a call from a teacher over the weekend, concerned about the new materials. She said it could put educators in a tough spot, especially with House Bill 7, also known as the “Stop WOKE Act,” in place.
“There could be repercussions for what they do and what they say,” Lewis said. “They have a potential of being sued, so if I was a teacher I would be afraid.”