At its meeting in Jacksonville, the Florida State Board of Education approved a controversial rule Thursday banning teachers from indoctrinating or persuading students.
A last-minute addition to the rule made its intentions even more explicit, banning “theories that distort historical events” such as critical race theory, The New York Times’ 1619 Project, and Holocaust denialism.
The last-minute amendment to the rule was proposed by State Board of Education member Tom Grady, and it says that racism can only be taught as interpersonal, and not as a structure embedded in American laws and norms.
“Things in our history that are tough but true must be taught, will be taught,” Grady said. “But that’s not to say that opinion and narrative disguising as fact, promoted by others with a different agenda, intended to divide us into racial buckets, that’s not the truth, and that should be prohibited in Florida schools.”
Critical race theory is an academic model that teaches racism is more than interpersonal bigotry, but is also structures in law and policy that disadvantage Black people and other people of color. The 1619 Project was a 2019 piece of longform journalism that retold America’s history placing slavery at its center, exploring the ongoing consequences of slavery in modern society, and honoring more fully the contributions of Black Americans in the nation’s story.
The board of education heard impassioned comments on both sides of the issue, including Jacksonville activist Ben Frazier, who opposes the new standards.
“This new educational standard is bogus, it is unfair, and it is unjust,” Frazier said. “It is the governor’s attempt to cover up and whitewash history.”
Frazier was escorted out by security, as he led others in the chant, “Allow teachers to teach the truth.”
About twenty people opposed to the new rule followed him out, chanting “Black lives matter” and “No justice, no peace.”
Contact Sydney Boles at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter at @sydneyboles.