The Florida state board of education unanimously voted to ban teaching ideas related to critical race theory on Thursday, making it one of the largest school systems to fall in line with conservative efforts across the nation to regulate certain classroom instruction of American history.
The board passed a rule which stated in part that: “Instruction on the required topics must be factual and objective and may not suppress or distort significant historical events, such as the Holocaust, and may not define American history as something other than the creation of a new nation based largely on universal principles stated in the Declaration of Independence.”
In addition the rule stated that teachers must “serve as facilitators for student discussion and do not share their personal views or attempt to indoctrinate or persuade students to a particular point of views.”
The board voted on the rule after hearing from the Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis as well as over 30 speakers from both sides of the issue. Several people who attended the meeting chanted “allow teachers to teach the truth” forcing a recess, according to The Florida Times-Union.
The move was a victory for DeSantis who has been a vocal critic of critical race theory in schools. He told board members, many who he appointed, via video prior to their vote that students should be served with fact-based curricula by teachers who should “not be trying to indoctrinate them with ideology.”
DeSantis added, “I think it’s going to cause a lot of divisions. I think it’ll cause people to think of themselves more as a member of a particular race based on skin color, rather than based on the content of their character and based on their hard work and what they’re trying to accomplish in life.”
Several groups, including the Florida Education Association, a union which represents teachers across Florida, opposed the rule change stating that it would do a greater disservice to students to cover up history.
Andrew Spar, president of the union, said “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,” in a statement which added that, “if giving students a good education is the goal, the rule could be amended to say in part: ‘Instruction on the required topics must be factual and objective, and may not suppress or distort significant historical events, such as the Holocaust, slavery, the Civil War, Reconstruction, and Jim Crow.’”
A particular sore point is the use of the word “indoctrinate” in the rule, which the union says presents an overly negative view of classroom instruction. The board chose to keep the word in the new rule.
Florida’s move was widely expected as a national debate intensifies about how race should be used as a lens in classrooms to examine the country’s tumultuous history.
Critical race theory is a concept that seeks to understand racism and inequality in the United States by exploring and exposing the ways it affects legal and social systems. It is not taught in Florida public schools or in any public school system yet has become a tremendous point of contention for conservative leaders.
At least 16 states are considering or have signed into law bills that would limit how schools frame American history.
Critics say a national effort by conservatives to limit what is taught in schools risks politicizing classroom instruction by limiting the points of view allowed in classroom discussions. Supporters contend that federal law has preserved the unequal treatment of people on the basis of race and that the country was founded on the theft of land and labor.
Source : NBC News