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Ron Desantis

Source: The Washington Post / Getty

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis claims that new education standards around teaching slavery in Florida schools will teach that enslaved people learned skills for their personal benefit. One statement that has caused significant controversy and outrage across the country. Read more about the new guidelines and check out some solid solutions inside.

DeSantis, who was speaking to reporters during an event in Utah, defended the new set of Florida’s academic standards, which will require middle schools to teach that enslaved people “developed skills which, in some instances, could be applied for their personal benefit.”

“They’re probably going to show that some of the folks that eventually parlayed, you know, being a blacksmith into doing things later in life,” DeSantis said, adding that “scholars” put together the standards, which he said were “rooted in whatever is factual.”

Of course, DeSantis has completely removed himself from the new education policy, saying, “I didn’t do it. I wasn’t involved in it.”

Florida’s Board of Education approved these new standards in response despite pleas from a statewide teachers’ union, which came in response to the state’s 2022 “Stop WOKE Act,” a piece of legislation championed by DeSantis himself that stated that race must be taught in “an objective manner” that does not “indoctrinate or persuade students to a particular point of view.”

The act continued far-right lawmakers’ belief that teaching Black history makes White people feel “ashamed.” It goes on to instruct that no student should be made to feel “guilt” or “responsibility” for actions previously committed by members of the same race.

The new education guidelines in Florida detail that middle school teachers must now teach students about “the various duties and trades performed by slaves (e.g., agricultural work, painting, carpentry, tailoring, domestic service, blacksmithing, transportation).” A benchmark clarification listed in the standards includes the note that teachers should also instruct that enslaved people developed skills, “in some instances… for their personal benefit.”

Another guideline directs teachers to instruct high schoolers about “acts of violence perpetrated against and by African Americans” when teaching about the rebuilding of Black communities during Reconstruction. The standards discuss the 1920 Ocoee Massacre, in which more than 30 African Americans were killed by a White mob while attempting to vote, among the examples of “acts of violence perpetrated against and by African Americans.”

This is one of the many DeSantis moves to reshape education in the state. DeSantis has publicly admitted that he funneled over $2 million of his own PAC contributions into Florida school board races in 2022.

In January, Florida’s Department of Education, which is comprised of DeSantis appointees, rejected a new Advanced Placement course on African American history in January, saying in a letter that the course “lacks educational value and is contrary to Florida law.”

“In the future, should College Board be willing to come back to the table with lawful, historically accurate content, FDOE will always be willing to reopen the discussion,” reads the letter, which was sent to the College Board from the Florida Department of Education Office of Articulation.

According to TIME, the course covered more than 400 years of African American history and is the College Board’s first new offering since 2014.

People are outraged online about Florida’s new education standards:

Vice President Kamala Harris had a response and so did the people:

The Cookie Monster aka DeSantis:

We Can’t Run From the Truth:

The real question is how can citizens combat the miseducation in public schools.

Here are a few solid solutions:

  • Teach your kids their history at home.
  • Buy the books they’re trying to ban while they’re still available.
  • Download the PDFs online now to continue educating our youth.

Florida Rewrites History With New Education Guidelines: How Can Citizens Combat It  was originally published on