New Education Rule Won’t Change Duval County Curriculum, School Board Says

Jun 11, 2021

Florida’s new history curriculum standards banning critical race theory in public school classrooms won’t have any impact on Duval County’s curricula, according to a spokesperson for the county school board. 

Gov. Ron DeSantis has said the new standards, approved in Jacksonville Thursday amid protests, are necessary to prevent the “indoctrination” of Florida children into ideologies like critical race theory. 

But in the statement to WJCT News, Duval County School Board spokesperson Trace Pierce said the decision does not impact the district’s instructional program. 

“Critical Race Theory, as an independent topic, is not included in state standards or state-approved curriculum,” Pierce wrote. “The district remains committed to intellectual integrity and strengthening critical thinking skills of all students through the approved curriculum and its applications."

Critical race theory is an academic model that teaches racism is more than interpersonal bigotry but also is structurally built into laws and policies that disadvantage Black people and other people of color in areas including housing, criminal justice and education. 

Critics who spoke out against the standards at Thursday’s State Ed Board meeting worried they’d prevent the accurate teaching of Black history. 

The text of the new rule reads, “Examples of theories that distorical 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 a product of prejudice, but that racism is embedded in American society and ins legal systems inoder to uphold the supremacy of white persons. Instruction may not utilize materials from the 1619 Project.” 

The 1619 Project is 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. 

“This new educational standard is bogus, it is unfair, and it is unjust,” Jacksonville activist Ben Frazier said before he was eventually escorted out of the meeting by security. “It is the governor’s attempt to cover up and whitewash history.” 

But Pierce said the district offers African American history as an independent elective at the high school level and as an important topic integrated throughout social studies and English language classes. 

DCPS has also been recognized as an Exemplary School District by the Florida Commissioner of Education’s African American History task force. 

Contact Sydney Boles at sboles@wjct.org, or on Twitter at @sydneyboles.