Florida Governor Ron DeSantis speaks during a campaign rally at Pensacola International Airport in Pensacola, Fla., October 23, 2020. (Tom Brenner/Reuters)
The Florida State Board of Education on Thursday approved a new rule banning critical race theory and the use of material from the controversial “1619 Project” in the state’s classrooms.
During a meeting of the board on Thursday, Governor Ron DeSantis said the state must have an education system that is “preferring fact over narrative.” He said that means keeping “outrageous” approaches such as “critical race theory” out of schools.
DeSantis noted that state law requires the teaching of slavery, civil rights and more and it “absolutely should be taught.” However, he argued that teachers should not go beyond the historical record and paint a portrait of a rotten nation.
Both critical race theory and the 1619 project have been touted by educators and other progressives over the last year as the nation has faced a racial reckoning brought on by the murder of George Floyd.
According to experts, critical race theory “presupposes that racism is embedded within society and institutions.”
The theory’s implementation in classrooms nationwide has drawn outcry from parents, some of whom have received emails from their children’s schools about “Decentering Whiteness at Home” or have elementary-school aged children who have been read “a book about whiteness” that suggests “color matters” and encourages them to dissect “the painful truth” about their “own family,” regarding potential racist behavior.
Meanwhile the New York Times’ “1619 Project,” a feature on slavery in the U.S. that aims to shift perceptions of American history and change what students are taught in schools, won the 2020 Pulitizer Prize for Commentary. However, after receiving scrutiny from historians and politicians, the Times issued a clarification on the project.
Historians have called the 1619 edition of the New York Times magazine, of which she was lead essayist, “a very unbalanced, one-sided account” and “wrong in so many ways.” Critics have called the project “not only ahistorical,” but “actually anti-historical.”
The new rule comes after the Republican governor advocated against critical race theory in schools for months. After he was unable to convince Florida lawmakers to consider a measure banning the ideology when he promoted a civics education initiative earlier this year, he asked Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran and the state board to enact such a rule, according to the Miami Herald.
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