TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WFLA) — The list of those frustrated with Florida’s new standards for teaching Black history keeps growing as does the criticism.
Democrats, civil rights leaders and Vice President Kamala Harris are among many taking issue with the state’s new guidelines.
The governor and his education department, however, have shown no signs of changing course.
“These are the most robust standards in African American history – probably in the country,” Gov. Ron DeSantis said over the weekend.
A big point of contention with the new standards is that the instruction will include that enslaved people developed skills that could be “applied for their personal benefit,” a concept DeSantis seemed to endorse while answering questions on the 2024 campaign trail.
“I think that they’re probably going to show some of the folks that eventually parlayed, you know, being a blacksmith into doing things later in life,” DeSantis said.
The comments threw fuel on to already outraged critics, including famed civil rights attorney Ben Crump, who on Monday called it insulting.
“This irresponsible and disgraceful so-called black history curriculum is an insult to our ancestors,” Crump said.
House Democratic Leader Fentrice Driskell is among the lawmakers criticizing the new curriculum.
“These new standards simply can’t stand,” Rep. Driskell said.
This past Saturday, Driskell issued a letter denouncing the standards and calling on Florida’s education commissioner Manny Diaz to resign.
“In my call for Manny Diaz’s resignation, what you’re really seeing is a call for some sort of accountability,” Driskell said.
The governor’s 2024 rivals, including former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, also jumped in on the criticism over the weekend.
“Governor DeSantis started this fire with the bill that he signed and now he doesn’t want to take responsibility for whatever he’s done in the aftermath of it,” Christie said.
Changes to the standards are just as unlikely as a resignation, but could the political fallout be fatal for the governor’s presidential campaign? Political experts think so.
“There is no walking back this kind of policy or his comments and no reasonable person would think it’s anything but racist. This may be the nail in the coffin as this is not only creating a culture of racism, it’s weakening our educational standards by the very indoctrination DeSantis railed about,” political science professor Tara Newsom stated.