New Florida Standards Teach Students That Some Black People Benefitted From Slavery
Florida educators are grappling with new standards that teach their students that some Black people benefited from slavery. The guidelines, approved Wednesday, require middle schoolers to learn about the ways enslaved individuals possessed skills which could later be applied towards personal gain.
Critics claim the new requirements discredit honest lessons on Black history, yet Education Commissioner Manny Diaz stands by them.
The new Florida standards approved by the state school board include lessons to inform students that some Black people derived some benefit from slavery. According to CBS News, curriculum highlights how slaves learned skills they could later use for themselves and for personal gain. The state’s social studies curriculum also instructs that slaves fought for freedom and participated in the abolition movement, leading the NAACP and teachers union to criticize its standards as unfairly teaching about this historical fact. They represent yet another attack by DeSantis-backed officials against teaching African American history in Florida. Recently, Florida state rejected an Advanced Placement class on Black history on grounds that it did not possess the “educational value”. DeSantis also signed laws banning diversity programs and restricting discussions about race within schools.
The Abolitionist Movement was composed of individuals who helped enslaved people flee to freedom in America from their masters. Many fugitives assisted by these abolitionists were Black. According to new curriculum standards, some Black individuals benefited financially from this abolitionist movement while also noting its positive effect on overall Black American communities.
Slavery stripped millions of people of their liberty and forced them to live lives of misery and humiliation. Enslaved men and women were often separated from family members, brutalized physically or psychologically, denied voting rights or property ownership rights and treated like commodities.
Educators must convey to students the profound impacts of slavery on all Black people – not only those who became abolitionists or fled to the North – as well as how its legacy continues to influence contemporary Black Americans’ lives. Eight out of ten Black adults indicate the institution still exerts an enormous effect on their situation, which is the highest percentage among any group in America. Curriculum requirements require high schoolers to study events such as the 1920 Ocoee Massacre, during which white mobs attacked Black residents of Ocoee and killed as many as 35 of them. The new guidelines stipulate that lessons about the massacre must include acts of violence committed by and against African Americans. Similar stipulations also apply when teaching about other mass killings such as Tulsa Race Massacre and Rosewood Race Massacre.
- The Transatlantic Slave Trade
The Florida Board of Education approved Wednesday new academic standards instructing schools to teach lessons that highlight how black people have made positive contributions to American culture and history, such as advances in sex, health and civil rights throughout African American history. However, educators and civil rights activists have identified two parts of the 216-page social studies curriculum which have raised eyebrows. Middle school students must learn about how slaves developed skills that could be applied directly for personal gain; and that they were forced into having children to ensure an ever-increasing workforce for white plantations owners in the US and other colonial powers.
Florida and teachers’ groups have long battled over how best to present America’s difficult history, particularly slavery and other forms of discrimination against African-Americans and other people of color. Amid a political environment where far-right lawmakers push for Florida’s 2024 “Stop WOKE” law – prohibiting school instruction that implies anyone is privileged or oppressed because of race or skin color – such language marks another step forward in this ongoing dispute.
As well as containing contentious language on slave skills, other teachings in the newly approved curriculum have also drawn considerable criticism. Students should learn about how slavery was driven by desires for land, westward expansion and labor demands; slaves were sometimes victims of violence during race massacres and were even involved in their own people’s exploitation and destruction.
The NAACP expressed concern that Florida’s new standards present an “sanitised and dishonest telling of history.” Teachers’ groups strongly condemned them as being an insufficient representation of African American history education since 1994 in public schools across Florida. Meanwhile, Florida’s education commissioner stated these new standards aim to emphasize slavery was not only limited to the South; many slaves hailing from West Central African nations like Angola and Senegambia were captured for slavery during its operation.
- The Civil Rights Movement
Florida Board of Education’s controversial decision to approve new standards for teaching Black history in state schools drew widespread condemnation from education and civil rights activists, drawing particular ire from educators and civil rights advocates. The 216-page document details ways Black people have positively impacted society, civil rights advancements in America and their role as perpetrators in race massacres – teachings educators and civil rights advocates are concerned about.
The Florida Standards were approved on Wednesday and require teachers to inform students of how slaves developed skills that could later be used for their own gain, and of the immediate and long-term effects of organizations which resisted attaining American equality – such as state legislatures, Ku Klux Klan and White Citizens Councils as well as law enforcement agencies, elected officials and private school consortiums – that attempted to resist it achieving equality – such as state legislatures, Ku Klux Klan and White Citizens Councils along with law enforcement agencies, law enforcement agencies elected officials elected officials elected officials elected officials elected officials and private school consortiums. Furthermore instruction on the murders committed against African Americans including 1906 Atlanta Race Riot 1919 Washington DC race Riot as well as 1920 Ocoee Massacre among others.
Educators and civil rights advocates contend that state standards do not adequately prepare students to participate in a democracy by giving them an incomplete view of American history. According to these critics, these standards fail to address America’s racist past and teach students why people of color continue to face difficulties living here today.
One such issue concerns the state’s refusal to permit a College Board course on Black history praised by Kimberle W. Crenshaw, bell hooks and Angela Davis to be taught in public schools. In January, Education Commissioner Manny Diaz Jr. wrote to accuse it of indoctrinating students with leftist ideology under the guise of African American Studies.
Florida board curriculum mandates that elementary school children learn not only how to identify well-known African Americans like Rosa Parks and George Washington Carver, but also learn about Black inventors and scientists like William Henry Draper Jr. and Mary McCloud Bethune (founder of Bethune Cookman University). Furthermore, teachers must instruct students in studying historical and modern African Americans who have served military service, government service and business, such as athletes or civil rights leaders.
- The Occoee Massacre
The 1920 Occoee Massacre was one of the deadliest episodes of voting day violence in US history. It started when Moses Norman, an African-American land owner and labor broker living near Lake Apopka tried to cast his vote. White poll workers rejected his application because he hadn’t paid his $1 poll tax (an impediment that wouldn’t be eliminated until 1964 via 24th Amendment).
Occoee massacre marked just the start of “Red Summer”, when thousands of Blacks were violently attacked to reinforce white supremacy. Attacks often came after local governments carried out campaigns of intimidation and sabotage against African American communities. Francina Boykin, president of Florida Education Association teachers union called new standards “a major step backward for a state which mandated teaching African American history since 1994.”
Education Commissioner Manny Diaz denied that the new requirements would diminish what students are taught in school and refuted claims that slavery should be seen as advantageous. As Florida Phoenix reported, Mr. Diaz stated: “Let me be clear: our new standards are factual, objective standards that teach all aspects of slavery’s legacy – both good and bad,” in response to these allegations. Additionally, Paul Burns from Florida Phoenix stated that these align with existing Florida laws regarding required classroom instruction while holding teachers accountable to ensure they deliver accurate history lessons in class.
At its meeting Wednesday, the education board approved new standards, drawing fierce opposition from civil rights advocates who accuse Florida of trying to suppress difficult conversations about race and history. Furthermore, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis- a 2024 presidential candidate- has called for barring school instruction suggesting any student is either privileged or oppressed due to skin color.
Wednesday’s decision by the education board marks yet another in a string of controversial decisions by Texas’ top educators, which has drawn widespread outrage from educators nationwide; including in Texas where Democratic legislators successfully blocked legislation to ban teaching Black history classes last week. Read More>>