Here's What To Know About Florida's New Black History Curriculum

Explained: What To Know About Florida’s New Curriculum For Teaching Black History In Public Schools


Florida Board Of Education Curriculum Black History

On Wednesday (July 19), the Florida Board of Education faced backlash for newly-approved standards on teaching Black history in public schools.

The approval happened in Orlando amid extensive state-wide debate over Black American history lessons. Meanwhile, activists and educators are expressing fears of white-washing the “full truth” of American history.








What Are Some Of The Changes Under The New Standards? 

For middle schoolers (grades 6-8), instruction requires another perspective of the forced enslavement and labor Black Americans experienced. In one example, teachers must teach “how slaves developed skills which, in some instances, could be applied for their personal benefit.”

Courses affected by these clarified standards include African American History, Civics, and Government, Holocaust Education, Financial Literacy, American History, World History, Humanities, Psychology, Geography, Economics, and  Sociology.

In another example, high schoolers will learn about “acts of violence perpetrated against and by African Americans” during riots and massacres. Some examples are the 1920 Ocoee massacre, the Tulsa Race massacre, and the Rosewood Race massacre.

Some of the curriculum also explores how white people were targeted and served as allies throughout different eras of American history. High schoolers will learn about the relationship between “various ethnic groups to African Americans’ access to rights, privileges, and liberties in the U.S.” That includes lessons on “white and Black political leaders who fought on behalf of African Americans.”

Additional lessons will include how “whites who supported Reconstruction policies for freed blacks after the Civil War…were targeted.” A listed example was “white southerners being called scalawags and white northerners being called carpetbaggers.” 



How Are Leaders, Activists & Educators Reacting To New Black History Teaching Standards?  

As mentioned, education and civil rights leaders and activists are heavily speaking out against the board’s new standards.

President of the Florida Education Association, Andrew Spar, slammed the curriculum changes in a statement released Wednesday.

“Gov. DeSantis is pursuing a political agenda guaranteed to set good people against one another, and in the process, he’s cheating our kids,” Spar said. “They deserve the full truth of American history, the good and the bad.”

Some of the “concerns” Spar listed in the statement include:

“Florida’s elementary school students are expected to be able to “identify” famous African Americans including Rosa Parks, Zora Neele Hurston, and George Washington Carver. But their study of African American history does not extend to understanding these individuals’ histories and struggles. Evidently, in an attempt to protect students from wokeness, these new standards will make sure that, though the fourth grade, elementary school students’ knowledge of African American history doesn’t extend beyond being able to know who a famous African American is when they see them.”

State Senator Geraldine Thompson reacted to how massacres, including the Ococee one, will be taught. Instruction includes “acts of violence perpetrated against and by African Americans.” 

“It suggests that the massacre was sparked by violence from African Americans. That’s blaming the victim,” Thompson said.

On July 19, Equality Florida Parents & Families Support released a statement accusing the “Florida Board of Education voted to adopt five new rules targeting the LGBTQ community and expanding the Governor’s war on academic freedom.” 

Manager of the EFPFS Jennifer Solomon added:

“This politically-motivated war on parents, students, and educators needs to stop,” said Jennifer Solomon, Equality Florida Parents & Families Support Manager. “Our students deserve classrooms where all families are treated with the respect they deserve and all young people are welcomed. Instead, the DeSantis Administration continues to wield the state against us, insisting that politicians know better than we do how best to educate our children. Let parents be parents. Let educators be educators. And stop turning our kids’ classrooms into political battlefields to score cheap points.”



How Else Is Florida Restricting Black History Lessons In Public Schools?

Earlier this year, the department chucked a preliminary pilot version of Advanced Placed African-American Studies. They reasoned that it “lacked educational value.”  

Additionally, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis previously passed legislation preventing lessons about skin color and race-based privilege and oppression, including Critical Race Theory. The legislation is part of his public campaign against “wokeness,” including the Stop WOKE Act.

Florida has reportedly required public schools to teach African American history since 1994. However, according to CNN, only 11 of the 67 county school districts meet standards set forth by the African American History Task Force.

The state board is meant to help schools abide by the 1994 mandate. But findings reportedly show most African-American history topics are primarily taught during Black History Month.

“The idea that every Florida student learned African American history, it’s not reality,” Bernadette Kelley-Brown, the task force principal investigator, said. “Some districts don’t even realize it’s required instruction.”


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