The Florida State Board of Education voted unanimously Thursday to ban teaching ideas related to critical race theory, making it one of the largest public school systems to align with the conservative efforts across the country to regulate some classroom teaching of American history.
The rule says in part: “Instruction on the required subjects must be factual and objective and cannot suppress or distort significant historical events, such as the Holocaust, and cannot define American history as anything other than the creation of a new nation based largely on the universal principles set forth in the Declaration of Independence.
In addition, the rule states that teachers should “serve as facilitators for student discussion and not share their personal views or attempt to indoctrinate or persuade students of a particular point of view.”
The board voted after hearing Governor Ron DeSantis and more than 30 speakers from both sides of the issue. Several people at the meeting chanted, “Let teachers teach the truth,” forcing a pause, the Florida Times-Union in Jacksonville reported.
The move was a victory for DeSantis, who sharply criticized critical race theory in schools. He told board members, many of whom he named, by video ahead of the vote that students should be offered evidence-based programs by teachers who “shouldn’t try to indoctrinate them with ideology. “.
DeSantis added, “I think it’s going to cause a lot of division. I think it will make people see themselves more as a member of a particular race based on their skin color, rather than their character content. and based on their hard work and what they are trying to accomplish in life. “
Several groups, including the Florida Education Association, a union that represents teachers statewide, opposed the rule change, saying it would do students a greater disservice to cover up the story.
Andrew Spar, union president, said in a statement: “Students deserve the best education we can offer, and that means giving them a true picture of their world and our shared history as Americans. Hide the facts don’t change them.
“If the aim is to give students a good education, the rule could be changed to say in part:” Instruction on the required subjects should be factual and objective, and should not suppress or distort important historical events, such as the Holocaust, slavery, civil war, reconstruction and Jim Crow, ”he said.
A particularly sensitive point is the use of the word “indoctrinate” in the rule, which, according to the union, presents an overly negative view of classroom teaching. The board has chosen to keep the floor.
Florida’s decision was widely anticipated as a national debate intensifies over how race should be used as a lens in classrooms to examine the country’s tumultuous history.
Critical Race Theory is a concept that seeks to understand racism and inequality in the United States by exploring and exposing the ways in which they affect legal and social systems. It is not taught in Florida public schools or any other public school system, but it has become a huge point of contention for conservative leaders.
At least 16 states are considering or have passed bills that would limit the way schools frame American history.
Critics say a nationwide Conservative effort to limit what is taught in schools risks politicizing classroom instruction by limiting views allowed in classroom discussions. Proponents argue that federal law preserved the unequal treatment of people on the basis of race and that the country was founded on the theft of land and labor.