ORLANDO, Florida – A new Florida Board of Education ban on critical teaching of racial theory throughout the state will not impact the Central Florida classroom curriculum as school district officials say they didn’t teach it initially.
Amid the death of George Floyd and the Black Lives Matter movement, discussions about race in America have taken place in many areas of public life. Classrooms have long been a battleground, and lawmakers in Republican-led states have decided to restrict what can be taught about the country’s sometimes tumultuous history.
At least 16 states are considering or have signed bills that would limit the way schools frame American history.
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Critical Race Theory is a theoretical perspective and a practice for examining the role of race and racism in society, according to Dr. Jonathan Cox, race scholar and assistant professor of sociology at the University of Central Florida.
Spokesmen for school systems in Lake, Marion Orange, Osceola and Seminole counties said critical race theory was not part of the curriculum in social studies or civics education.
Assistant media relations director Lorena Arias, of Orange County Public Schools, said teachers instructed with standards provided by the Florida Department of Education.
Marion County Public Schools also teach by Florida standards and have not changed their social studies curriculum in recent years, according to a district spokesperson.
“Currently, Seminole County public schools do not have a formal, district-based curriculum related to Black Lives Matter, Critical Race Theory or Social Justice. Our courses and programs are aligned with Florida standards and the required subjects of instruction listed in Florida Statute 1003.42According to an email from Seminole County Public Schools.
The Ministry of Education is still in the process of finalizing the new course material to BEST standards for the 2021-22 school year, which have yet to be released pending approval. These standards will include “foundational concepts” in social studies, social science and civics education courses.
The Board of Education on Thursday approved Gov. Ron DeSantis’ request to restrict how American history should be taught in Florida public schools, but it’s unclear how many schools actually taught the so-called critical theory of race to begin with because the DOE sets education standards for public schools.
News 6 WJXT partner reports the original rule change proposal did not specifically mention “critical race theory”, but the wording was added in an amendment proposed by board member Tom Grady.
The rule change prohibits teachers from attempting: “… to indoctrinate or persuade students of a particular point of view. “
“Some of these things are, I think, really toxic,” DeSantis told the school board before the approval. “I think it’s going to cause a lot of divisions. I think this will make people see themselves more as a member of a particular race based on skin color, rather than their character content and hard work and what they try. to accomplish in life. “
Critics say a national Conservative effort to limit what is taught in schools risks politicizing classroom instruction by limiting views allowed in classroom discussions.
Brevard Teachers’ Federation vice-president Vanessa L. Skipper said in a statement to News 6 that the Education Council is focusing “on solving a problem that doesn’t exist” instead. to provide the necessary funding to public schools.
“Whether we are black or white, Latino or Asian, native or newcomer, we want our students to have an education that encourages them to deepen who we are, where we come from and what we are capable of being. But the same lawmakers who blocked funding for our classrooms are now trying to turn our communities against our schools, ”Skipper wrote in an email. “They are spreading lies about the lessons about our history, culture and political system that our teachers teach based on the standards that the State of Florida has given us in the hopes of dividing us so that we do not unite. to demand whatever our schools need. Our teachers come from a wide variety of political backgrounds, and whether they are Republicans, Democrats, or somewhere in between, our teachers work hard every day to encourage students to become critical thinkers. Our students have no R&D after their names on our lists, and politicizing education by accusing Florida teachers of indoctrination is extremely disappointing.
The Florida Education Association previously called on the board to reject the proposal.
“Students deserve the best education we can offer, which means giving them a true picture of their world and our shared history as Americans. Hiding the facts doesn’t change them. Give kids the whole truth and empower them to form their own minds and think for themselves, ”Florida Education Association president Andrew Spar said in a statement earlier this week.
Wendy Doromal, president of the Orange County Classroom Teachers Association, released a statement saying, “Governor DeSantis had his political agenda and ambitions in mind when pushing for a new rule to be passed that would prevent teachers to indoctrinate children and limit what they can teach. The rule attempts to whitewash and erase the uncomfortable parts of American history. Students deserve to receive a true and thorough education. To claim that certain events never happened simply distorts the truth and prevents people from learning from the mistakes of the past. “
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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