Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) defended Florida’s new Black history school curriculum Sunday, claiming it is “not political at all,” following criticism of the updated guidelines from across the nation.
“We’ve been involved in education, not indoctrination,” DeSantis said Sunday in an interview with NBC News correspondent Dasha Burns. “The Legislature didn’t dictate any of that. Governor’s office didn’t dictate anything of that.”
Florida’s new standards have come into focus in DeSantis’s presidential campaign over the past few weeks since a new set of controversial guidelines were passed last month.
The guidelines are based on Florida’s controversial law that requires race to be taught in an “objective” manner that does not seek to “indoctrinate or persuade students to a particular point of view.”
One of the updated requirements that prompted some of the most backlash requires teachers to instruct on “how slaves developed skills which, in some instances, could be applied to their personal benefit.”
Teachers in Florida are also now required to instruct on “acts of violence perpetrated against and by Americans,” such as the 1920 Ocoee massacre and the Tulsa Race Massacre, both events where Black people were overwhelmingly killed by white people.
The guidelines come as DeSantis has made eliminating “woke” culture a central focus of his campaign. Burns asked DeSantis about the standards Sunday in his first broadcast network interview since launching his campaign.
“So that means they developed skills in spite of slavery, not because of slavery,” DeSantis said. “It was them showing resourcefulness and then using those skills once slavery ended.”
Vice President Harris spoke out against the state’s new education standards last month, calling them “propaganda.”
“Don’t take that side of Kamala Harris against the state of Florida. Don’t indulge those lies,” DeSantis said in the interview with Burns.
DeSantis once again said the standards were made with the help of African American scholars.
The interview will air Monday night on “NBC Nightly News.”