Kamala Harris blasts new Florida education standards: “slaves developed skills” that could be used for “personal benefit”

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School building. By littleny via iStock for WMNF News.

New state academic standards guiding schools’ instruction about African American history have ignited heated debate nationally, bringing Vice President Kamala Harris to Florida to condemn the guidelines and prompting a defense from Gov. Ron DeSantis.

Backlash over the standards, approved Wednesday by the state Board of Education, centers largely on a part of the middle-school curriculum.

The standards include a provision that requires instruction to include “how slaves developed skills which, in some instances, could be applied for their personal benefit.”

The standards, designed to guide lessons from kindergarten through high-school grades, cover a wide range of topics.

For example, early-grade standards require items such as students identifying African American inventors and explorers, artists, and people who demonstrated civil service.

After the standards were approved, Harris joined numerous Black leaders throughout the country in criticizing state officials for signing off on the curriculum changes.

“These extremist so-called leaders should model what we know to be the correct and right approach, if we really are invested in the wellbeing of our children. Instead, they dare to push propaganda to our children. This is the United States of America. We’re not supposed to do that,” Harris said during an appearance in Jacksonville Friday afternoon. “It is a reasonable expectation that our children will not be misled and that’s what’s so outrageous, happening right now.”

The governor, who frequently clashes with the White House over a range of issues as he pursues a 2024 presidential bid, pushed back on Harris’ statements in a statement released by DeSantis’ campaign Friday.

“Democrats like Kamala Harris have to lie about Florida’s educational standards to cover for their agenda of indoctrinating students and pushing sexual topics onto children. Florida stands in their way and we will continue to expose their agenda and their lies,” DeSantis said.

State Education Commissioner Manny Diaz Jr. defended the standards prior to their approval Wednesday, and Paul Burns, chancellor of the Department of Education’s Division of K-12 Public Schools, accused critics of “peddling really a false narrative” about the guidelines.

©2023 The News Service of Florida

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