Florida’s largest teacher union is against banning critical race theory in classrooms
Critical race theory has made headlines in recent weeks as Gov. Ron DeSantis seeks to permanently ban it from Florida classrooms.
Critical race theory is an academic movement that seeks to examine the law as it intersects with race.
Supporters of the movement say it’s not about replacing history but instead, about examining it holistically to capture the complexities of the nation’s story and its challenges in fostering equity across the masses.
While DeSantis is not a fan, parents in Lee County have varied opinions.
“I think it’s going to cause more of a racial divide,” said Angie Salender, a Lee County parent. “We need to teach and make sure they can read. Make sure they can write and stop with all this political agenda that’s kind of coming into our schools right now.”
Vasha Tolbert disagrees.
“It’s not an us versus them,” said Tolber, also a Lee County parent. “The subject matter does need to be discussed one and then two we just need to be careful about how we discuss it.”
Founders of critical race theory say politicians are giving it a bad name, that it’s about teaching the country’s complete history and having open discussions about the lasting impacts of racism.
But a rule proposed by the Florida Department of Education leader Richard Corcoran would ban the teaching of critical race theory.
The State Board of Education will discuss whether to ban the academic movement when it meets next month.
“For the 185,000 teachers, you can’t indoctrinate students with stuff that’s not based on our standards,” Corcoran said.
Lee, Charlotte and Collier county school districts say they don’t teach critical race theory and will follow the standards by the state.
For example, the rule demands teachers be factual and objective and may not suppress or distort significant historical events such as the Holocaust.
They may also not define American history as something other than the creation of a new nation based largely on the principles stated in the Declaration of Independence.
But teaching critical race theory would also include that at the time the Declaration of Independence was written slavery was part of the country’s existence and Blacks were not considered equal.
“We’re seeing edicts being issued from the ivory tower in Tallahassee, interfering with teacher’s ability and, and our trust in teachers, to ensure that students are getting a complete history,” said Andrew Spar, president of the Florida Education Association.
Spar leads the largest teacher union in Florida, which is against the proposed rule.
“I think a lot of what we already do in our classrooms is trying to teach kids the whole history. I worry that these new rules are actually going to limit that,” Spar said.