Florida’s new African-American Studies program highlights the ‘personal benefit’ of slavery to Black people
Florida has approved a new set of standards on how African-American Studies should be taught.
The new curriculum highlights the ‘personal benefit’ of slavery to Black people.
The Florida Board of Education approved a new set of standards for teaching African-American Studies in public schools, which includes instruction on the “personal benefit” of slavery to Black people.
The curriculum was unanimously approved at the school board meeting in Orlando on Wednesday, CNN reported.
It follows legislation signed by Gov. Ron DeSantis in 2022 that was introduced to prevent the teaching of anything that could make people feel “shamed because of their race.”
The law, known as the “Stop WOKE Act,” was intended to push back against Critical Race Theory, but critics, including the ACLU of Florida, have argued that it serves to “whitewash history.”
A document outlining the state’s new academic standards for the African-American Studies program shows that students in Florida public schools will now be taught about the various duties and trades performed by slaves, including agricultural work, painting, tailoring, and blacksmithing.
A particularly contentious clarification highlights that instruction will include learning about “how slaves developed skills which, in some instances, could be applied for their personal benefit.”
Elsewhere in the document, which was posted on the Florida Department of Education’s website, the new standards outline how high-school students will need to be instructed on “acts of violence perpetrated against and by African Americans” when learning about the 1920 Ocoee massacre.
The Ocoee massacre saw a white mob attack Black residents, with 30 to 35 of them being killed in the violence. Black-owned businesses were burned to the ground during the massacre, which occurred after Black landowner Mose Norman tried to vote but was turned away twice on Election Day.
The new standards have already sparked outrage among civil rights and teacher groups in the state.
Andrew Spar, the president of the Florida Education Association, the state’s largest teachers union, told CNN on Thursday: “We’re very concerned about the standards here in Florida.”
He added: “What teachers want to do is teach kids an accurate, complete, and honest history — both the good and the bad. What we see happening here right now in Florida is the governor is putting his political agenda ahead of the education of our children.”
Derrick Johnson, president and CEO of the NAACP, said in a statement that the new standards convey “a sanitized and dishonest telling of the history of slavery” in the US.
“It is imperative that we understand that the horrors of slavery and Jim Crow were a violation of human rights and represent the darkest period in American history,” he added.
The Florida Department of Education did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment. But in a statement provided to CNN, Alex Lanfranconi, director of communications for the department, said it is “sad” to see people discredit the new standards.
“We are proud of the rigorous process that the Department took to develop these standards,” Lanfranconi said, per CNN.