Certain ideas about racism and history are now off limits in Florida classrooms.
On Thursday, the Florida Board of Education approved a new amendment advanced by Gov. Ron DeSantis – officially banning critical race theory and Holocaust denial in public school curriculums.
Critics say critical race theory teaches kids about systematic racism in the United States and promotes division, but supporters say it’s impossible to ignore how racism shaped our country’s institutions.
After hours of public comment, the Board of Education voted unanimously to bar teachers from sharing “personal views or attempt to indoctrinate or persuade students to a particular point of view.”
The concern about this amendment is that it will shut the door on important conversations about the role of race in history, but the text of the rule only precludes instruction of specific theories or curricula and requires that history is taught without distorting or suppressing objective truths.
The final rule reads:
“Instruction on the required topics must be factual and objective, and may not suppress or distort significant historical events, such as the Holocaust, slavery, the Civil War and Reconstruction, the civil rights movement and the contributions of women, African American and Hispanic people to our country, as already provided in Section 1003.42(2) F.S. Examples of theories that distort historical events and are inconsistent with State Board approved standards include the denial or minimization of the Holocaust, and the teaching of Critical Race Theory, meaning the theory that racism is not merely the product of prejudice, but that racism is embedded in American society and its legal systems in order to uphold the supremacy of white persons. Instruction may not utilize material from the 1619 Project and may not define American history as something other than the creation of a new nation based largely on universal principles stated in the Declaration of Independence. Instruction must include the U.S. Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and subsequent amendments.”
Addressing the board, DeSantis said, “Some of this stuff is really toxic, and I think it will cause a lot of divisions. I think it will cause people to think of them more as a member of a particular race or based on skin color based on the content of their character.”