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Florida’s Black history lessons ensnared in presidential politics

The big story: With presidential politics running hot, debate over Florida’s African American history standards continued to fill state and national headlines through the weekend.

Vice President Kamala Harris came to Jacksonville to blast the guidelines, the Florida Times-Union reports. Campaigning Utah, Gov. Ron DeSantis defended the lessons, which his appointees on the State Board of Education approved, the Washington Post reports.

Much of the back and forth focused the wording of a single line in the lengthy document. It stated that students should learn that slaves acquired skills while enslaved that ”in some instances, could be applied for their personal benefit.”

Experts for the Department of Education issued a list of 16 names they said demonstrated the truth of that statement. Several of their examples didn’t measure up with all the historical facts. Read more here.

Meanwhile, Florida continued to ban the Advanced Placement course on African American studies, USA Today reports. At its annual conference, College Board reviewed changes it’s made to the course, Education Week reports.

Three of Palm Beach County’s Black elected officials held a town hall meeting where they said these standards are part of a larger attack against Florida’s Black community, WPTV reports. Some south Florida teachers said they were outraged by the newly adopted state rule, the Miami Herald reports.

The Florida Democratic Party called on education commissioner Manny Diaz Jr. to resign over the standards, WTSP reports. And Democrats in Utah, where DeSantis stood by the standards, condemned his remarks, KJZZ reports. Read more from the Wall Street Journal, Fox News and the NY Times on the political fallout from Florida’s African American history standards.

Hot topics

Charter schools: A Leon County charter school that had been found out of compliance with its contract has reorganized, including a new name and new principal, the Tallahassee Democrat reports.

Football season: A new Palm Beach County high school primed for a grass football field abruptly transitioned to turf, raising concerns over whether the project will be safe for students, the Palm Beach Post reports. • Florida A&M University suspended its football activities while investigating a rap video that was filmed in its locker room without permission, Bleacher Report reports.

Moms in politics: ‘Mama bears’ who got involved with school issues during the pandemic could play a critical role in deciding 2024 elections, the Associated Press reports. • Brevard County School Board member Jennifer Jenkins is a mom fighting against the culture wars, Daily Beast reports.

School supplies: Florida’s back to school sales tax holiday begins today. • Some schools and groups are giving away supplies to families that need them. One Orange County school provided students with books and backpacks, WKMG reports. A Duval County mom is sponsoring a back to school giveaway in honor of her late son, WJXT reports.

Student support: The Citrus County Education Foundation is looking for men to mentor male high school students who don’t have positive male role models in their lives, the Citrus County Chronicle reports.

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