Despite backlash from the White House, the Florida Department of Education (FDOE) notified schools Wednesday that it will be moving forward with its African American History standards.
On July 19, the FDOE adopted African American History standards that included lessons on what skills slaves developed for their own personal benefit, including carpentry, tailoring, or blacksmithing.
The standards came under fire from Vice President Kamala Harris last week, who claimed that the curriculum teaches that slaves were beneficiaries of slavery, though no such curriculum exists or has ever been proposed in the state of Florida.
“Following the adoption of these standards, the Biden administration – led by Vice President Kamala Harris and Department of Education Secretary Miguel Cardona – have intentionally misrepresented our groundbreaking work,” Manny Diaz, FDOE commissioner, said in the letter. “I am issuing this memo to reaffirm that we will be moving forward with implementing Florida’s new history standards. Despite the partisan and inaccurate criticism we have received, Florida’s thorough standards promote the teaching of accurate, detailed and nuanced history free from political sanitation and indoctrination.”
The standards adopted by the Florida DOE teach about the injustices slaves suffered throughout the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries. Students learn about African American heroes throughout American history and “the service and sacrifice of African patriots during the Revolutionary Era,” under the standards.
The standards incorporate historical accounts of African Americans, slaves and immediate descendants, the letter stated.
Harris responded to the standards on July 20, stating that Republicans are trying to “gaslight” American students with a “revisionist history.”
“We can see, right now in our country, so many of our hard-won freedoms are under full-on attack,” Harris said. “There’s so much at stake in this moment, our most basic rights and freedoms, fact versus fiction, foundational principles about what it means to be a democracy… let us fight fueled by the love of our country and let us fight with the knowledge and the faith that when we fight, we win.”
Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ administration previously sparred with the White House over education curriculum in January after the Governor made the decision to block an Advanced Placement (AP) course centered around black history and activism. DeSantis criticized the AP course for including “black queer studies.”
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