(KEY WEST, FL) Republicans want to sugarcoat the disgraceful and appalling history of race relations in the country by eliminating racially motivated and tragic events from the school course curriculum, according to recent legislation touted by avowed Trump sycophant Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. The 2024 GOP presidential hopeful and his Republican colleagues in six states want to whitewash American history.
Florida is one of about half a dozen states that have introduced legislation to prevent Critical Race Theory (CRT) teaching in schools. In its simplest definition, CRT is a literary and academic movement by civil rights scholars and educators to examine the law as it intersects with race. More specifically, it is the complete teaching of all aspects–good and bad–of American history. Under the legislation, educators would be prohibited from teaching history related to the racist roots of Western society—specifically the United States. During his State of the State address, DeSantis said Florida would emphasize vocational education, which mainly benefits people of color. He said the state would focus on implementing a new civics initiative. The move will prevent educators from teaching the negative or disparaging history of the country. DeSantis said teaching children about the negative aspects of the country–—especially those events that shine an unflattering spotlight about America’s racist past is, “teaching kids to hate their country.” DeSantis, along with Florida Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran, has repeatedly slammed aspects of critical race theory. Corcoran said, “We need to keep all of the crazy liberal stuff out of the classrooms.” Critics of the proposed legislation contend that DeSantis and other Trump loyalists are partisan and seek to inject their biased views in an already highly challenged and largely dysfunctional national educational system.
In New Jersey, which is not one of the six states considering a total revamp of what and how American history is taught, lawmakers and educators have continued to embrace and implement the teaching of a multichromatic, diverse and complete American history. In 2002, under the administration of former governor Jim McGreevey, state legislators passed Amistad Law. The historic piece of legislation mandated that schools throughout the state include a course curriculum that provides Black History and Afro-American studies. A watchdog committee regularly monitors school curriculums throughout the Garden state and ensures guidelines are maintained.
“It is absolutely critical that students, regardless of their academic discipline, understand how oppression, inequality, governmental policies, and social identities interact to impact the lives of people as it relates to the challenges they face,” said Oscar Holmes IV, PhD., and Associate Dean of Undergraduate Programs at Rutgers University. Holmes added, “Legislative attemps to restrict the teaching of American history accurately to students is antithetic to democratic ideals and should be disconcerting to everyone who believes in a fair and democratic society.”
Some Floridians agree.
“What is the harm of examining critical race theory?” said Ronald Jones of Pembroke Pines, FL. “We must look at what has happened to all people in history—not just white people,” he said. And Jordan Sessler, a retired history teacher at North Miami Senior High School, said, “Gov DeSantis’ plan to teach civics by excluding all negative facts of American history would be on par with young pioneer Communism class of Cuba. This is a ploy to perpetuate a conservative Republican philosophy.”