The Florida Board of Education passed a rule on June 10 that bans critical race theory in public schools across the state. But the ban will not change what is taught in public schools in Alachua County, according to the county’s social studies program supervisor.
Critical Race Theory refers to an analysis of how historical racism has built a society that still perpetuates systemic racism and maintains a racial caste system. This form of study has been criticized by conservatives like Governor Ron DeSantis. He called it “state sanctioned racism” which teaches children how to hate their country and each other in a tweet.
DeSantis has made his opposition very clear, as have other prominent Republicans across the country.
While the Republican opposition is clear, which is not clear, is why the ban was put in place: It targets school programs that never taught critical race theory to begin with.
“We don’t use theoretical frameworks as a school district,” said Jon Rehm, social studies program supervisor at public schools in Alachua County.
The state’s ban on Critical Race Theory specifies that teachers must teach factually and objectively, according to the Florida Department of Education. The CSGA has not been given a direct mandate from the state to implement anything new in its teaching methods because it already follows those principles, Rehm said.
Rehm said the school district’s history teachers focus primarily on providing archival material for study rather than current perspectives. Basing teaching on first-person documents allows students to form their own opinions, he said.
In addition, the CSGA has not received any complaints regarding the critical breed theory taught in the county, Rehm said.
David Biddle, Chairman of the Gilchrist County Republican Party, agreed that critical race theory is not a widespread problem in Florida. However, he is concerned that this will take hold and cited a graduation ceremony in Broward County that separated students based on critical practices in racial theory.
Biddle did not provide the name of the school where the alleged segregation took place.
Biddle agrees with Governor DeSantis’ stance on the theory and believes she teaches people how to think instead of what to think.
“It teaches hatred, it deters unity, it teaches that America and its foundation are bad,” he said. “He teaches that there is a hierarchy in society based on race, teaches that groups are constantly oppressed and that people are guilty, based on their race rather than their actions.”
David Canton, director of African-American studies at UF, said critical race theory doesn’t necessarily focus on examining race, but can help analyze class structure in general. This may shed light on why low-income areas have higher cancer rates, and those residents could also be white people, he said.
According to Canton, the debate around critical race theory is just a distraction to distract from how issues of inequality are not being properly addressed.
Critical race theory is simply one way of looking at information, Canton said. Critically analyzing laws and institutions for how they influence systemic inequalities is not the same as hating America, he said.
“Why is it okay for the Founding Fathers to criticize Britain, but the citizens cannot criticize the United States government? Canton said. “It’s a contradiction.”