Florida Department of Education: “We are not turning our backs on the great work of the African American History workgroup”

Alachua Chronicle | Jennifer Cabrera | July 26, 2023

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The Florida Department of Education today sent a letter to all Florida School District Superintendents, stating that the department is “not turning our backs on the great work of the African American History workgroup.”

The new African American History standards have generated a great deal of media attention, including a visit to Jacksonville by Vice President Kamala Harris. Tina Certain, Chair of the Alachua County School Board, inaccurately claimed last week that the standards referred to “indentured servitude” instead of “slavery” and said, “And that’s an insult, I think, to everyone.”

The letter states that the Biden Administration has “intentionally misrepresented our groundbreaking work” by “an august group of African American scholars and Florida educators utilizing a rigorous process, and we couldn’t be happier with the results. The standards are supported by historical accounts of African Americans, including slaves and their immediate descendants.”

In the letter, Florida Commissioner of Education Manny Diaz states that the Department “will be moving forward with implementing Florida’s new history standards. Despite this partisan and inaccurate criticism we have received, Florida’s thorough standards promote the teaching of accurate, detailed, and nuanced history free from political sanitation or indoctrination.” In response to some of the criticisms, Diaz points out that the standards “teach about the Ocoee Massacre, the brutal injustices of slavery, and a robust focus on the civil rights movement.”

Diaz says the Department’s social studies team members will prepare professional learning that will guide educators as they implement the “new, robust African American History standards.”

The letter recommends that Superintendents “instruct the appropriate administrators and educators in your district to begin reviewing their lesson plans to ensure they build out adequate time to teach these African American History standards. It will accrue to the benefit of our students.”

The standards can be found here, and an abridged list is available at the end of this article.

AP African American Studies course includes a similar topic

Governor DeSantis’ Press Secretary Jeremy Redfern announced this evening that the AP African American Studies course rejected by the State of Florida because of Critical Race Theory content includes a very similar “essential knowledge” topic.

The topic, found on page 72 of the course framework, states, “In addition to agricultural work, enslaved people learned specialized trades and worked as painters, carpenters, tailors, musicians, and healers in the North and South. Once free, American [sic] Americans used these skills to provide for themselves and others.”

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