The Florida State Board of Education disappointed African Americans (again) on Wednesday, July 19, after it approved its standards regarding how public school teachers will instruct Black history.
Each grade has its own restricted Black history course subjects that the board permitted. For example, kindergarteners will learn about African American inventors and explorers, from Lonnie Johnson to George Washington Carver.
First graders will discover influential African American artists such as Maya Angelou and Aretha Franklin. In fifth grade, Florida students will learn about slavery, specifically the glorified fight for freedom.
Middle and high schoolers will learn the economic and political aspects of slavery, sprinkling in how African Americans revolted and fought for equality and freedom after enduring oppression and racism — basically, the surface-level stuff of African American history.
But, many are angry that the standards fail to provide explicit details on the horrific treatment of African Americans from the slave trade to today. A slap in the face was that the standards required teachers to teach “how slaves developed skills which, in some instances, could be applied for their personal benefit.”
The standards also permitted teachers to teach about “violence perpetrated against and by African Americans,” which is the board blaming the victims.
“These standards are a disservice to Florida’s students and are a big step backward for a state that has required teaching African American history since 1994,” the Florida Education Association (FEA), Florida’s largest teachers union, told the Washington Post.
Board member Kelly Garcia, who Republican Governor Ron DeSantis appointed, gave her unsolicited two cents, claiming the standards contained much information about “the darkest parts of our history.”
For starters, Black history is American history, yet if Garcia were a part of “our history,” she would see critical elements missing in the standards.
The standards include many “dark parts” of Black history, but it’s only scratching the surface.
Florida’s standards for Black history mention Mamie Till Mobley, the mother of Emmett Till, but not Emmett. As though the board wants teachers to go into minimal details about Emmett’s death but dive deep into how his mother continually seeking justice for her son contributed to the advancement of African Americans.
Never mind the adult white woman’s lies that led to a teenager’s horrific death.
Equal Ground’s political director Genesis Robinson said the new standards dehumanized people of color because it practically required students to memorize and identify key Black history figures.
“Black history is more than being able to identify well-known Black people,” Robinson said.
State Rep. Anna Eskamani expressed her concerns with the inaccurate information in the new standards, like claiming slaves “developed skills” for their benefit.
While the board can be applauded for including the primary “dark parts” of African American history and the efforts made to enact change, it failed to include in-depth parts of Black history that led slaves and African Americans to be fed up.
They failed to include white people’s intense disdain for Black people solely because of their skin color, leading to the deaths of innocent African Americans. For example, the gruesome “Hit the N***er Baby” game, also known as the African Dodger. Like the carnival game where people hurl baseballs at metal pins, people would pay to have three chances to chuck three baseballs at a living African American.
While many parts of African American history may not be appropriate for elementary and middle school students, high school students who are well aware of sex, drugs and guns should know the formidable truths of African American history since they’re the next generation and no one wants history to be repeated.
This has been an ongoing battle in the Florida education system. Per News Onyx reports, DeSantis has been keen on diluting African American history teaching materials to deter the “woke agenda,” so he and his administration rejected AP African American courses for high school students.
Florida Commissioner of Education Manny Diaz, Jr. claimed the standards would enable students to gain much information and formulate their opinions. However, that’s impossible without the entire truth of Black history.
The Florida Board of Education has approved a new curriculum for African American history.
It will include teaching middle school kids how enslaved kids benefited from being enslaved and and how the worst voting-day violence in U.S. history was Black people’s fault. pic.twitter.com/3elgyki08x
— Joe Katz says #VoteNoInAugust (@joekatz45) July 19, 2023