In a move that has sparked nationwide debate, Florida’s 2023 Social Studies curriculum is set to include lessons on the historical role of slaves in America and the skills they developed. Here’s the full story.
According to a review by CBS News, the state-approved standards have drawn both support and criticism.
The curriculum aims to provide comprehensive and rigorous instruction on African American history, but some aspects have raised concerns about how slavery’s complex legacy is being portrayed to students.
Vice President Kamala Harris has condemned the lessons, while Florida Governor Ron DeSantis staunchly defends the curriculum, accusing his opponents of pushing “woke ideology” in schools.
The Controversial Aspect
The controversial aspect of Florida’s curriculum lies in the lessons that highlight how “slaves developed skills” that could be used for “personal benefit.”
These lessons are part of the African-American studies section in the social studies curriculum for students in sixth through eighth grade.
The curriculum aims to educate students about the causes, courses, and consequences of the slave trade in the colonies, comparing serfdom to slavery, and exploring the historical contact of European explorers with systematic slave trading in Africa.
Students will also delve into the history and evolution of slave codes.
The Duties and Trades
The benchmark clarification that refers to “personal benefit” is integrated into a lesson that prompts students to examine the various duties and trades performed by slaves, including agricultural work, domestic service, blacksmithing, and household tasks like tailoring and painting.
Proponents of this aspect argue that it is essential to recognize the strength, courage, and resilience displayed by slaves during a challenging period in American history.
Examples From History
They assert that some slaves developed highly specialized trades, providing examples like Crispus Attucks and Booker T. Washington, who found ways to benefit themselves and their communities of African descendants.
(Whether Crispus Attucks was ever enslaved is disputed by historians, and Booker T. Washington was freed from slavery at age 9.)
Kamala Harris Strikes Back
Vice President Kamala Harris has been an outspoken critic of the curriculum, denouncing it as an attempt to gaslight students.
She delivered a passionate speech at the national convention of the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc. in Indiana, expressing her concerns about the way history is being taught in Florida’s schools.
She Slammed the Curriculum
Harris accuses those behind the curriculum of insulting students by minimizing the oppression experienced by slaves and emphasizes the importance of honoring history in its proper context.
Ron DeSantis Supports the Curriculum
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, a potential 2024 presidential candidate, has dismissed Harris’s criticism of the curriculum, attributing it to the Democrats’ agenda of indoctrinating students with “woke ideology.”
DeSantis asserts that Florida stands firm in resisting such efforts and accuses Harris of lying about the state’s educational standards to further her own political goals.
He firmly believes that the curriculum should focus on presenting historical facts without ideological interpretations.
Two members of the group responsible for establishing the curriculum standards, Dr. William Allen and Dr. Frances Presley Rice, have defended the language of the lessons.
A Strong Intent
They argue that the intent of the benchmark clarification is to acknowledge the specialized skills developed by some slaves and how they benefited from their expertise.
The Importance of Clarification
They emphasize the importance of recognizing slaves’ strength, courage, and resilience, going beyond viewing them solely as victims of oppression.
According to Allen and Rice, the curriculum aims to provide comprehensive and rigorous instruction on African American history.
Florida Rejected a Proposal
Earlier in the year, Florida rejected a proposed advanced placement course centered on African American studies.
Gov. DeSantis Called It Indoctrination
Governor DeSantis deemed the course as “indoctrination,” citing concerns about including lessons on black queer theory and the prison abolition movement.
DeSantis maintained that the state’s standards for Black history should focus on presenting facts and historical figures, treating it as an integral part of American history rather than a separate entity.
Social Media Users Shared Their Views
Several social media users expressed their thoughts on the incident. One Twitter user wrote, “This so-called curriculum is a slap in the face of every African American.”
Another user wrote, “This is utterly appalling. It was forced labor in captivity, not a trade school! vile, wholly inaccurate, and I agree, sinful”
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Source: CBS News