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22 Jan, 2023 09:01

Florida defends blocking ‘woke’ high school course

The proposed African American studies class amounted to “indoctrination masquerading as education,” a senior state official said
Florida defends blocking ‘woke’ high school course

Florida Education Commissioner Manny Diaz Jr. has defended the state’s decision to block the teaching of a high school African American studies course that he described as indoctrination into critical race theory. This comes after Florida’s actions were criticized by the White House.

“Despite the lies from the Biden White House, Florida rejected an [advanced placement] course filled with Critical Race Theory and other obvious violations of Florida law,” Diaz Jr. tweeted on Saturday, adding that the state already “proudly” requires the teaching of African American history. “We do not accept woke indoctrination masquerading as education,” he wrote.

According to the commissioner, officials objected to the books proposed for the course, which include topics such as ‘Intersectionality and Activism’, ‘Black Queer Studies’, ‘The Reparations Movement’, and ‘Black Feminist Literary Thought’. The issue of reparations – financial compensation to the descendants of slaves – was one of the examples in which the course offered “no critical perspective or balancing opinion,” officials argued.

The course was developed by the College Board, a non-profit that prepares standardized tests for students seeking college admissions. In a rejection letter dated January 12, the Florida Education Department said the proposed program is illegal under state law and “significantly lacks educational value,” as cited by the media.

During a regular press briefing on Friday, White House spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre blasted Florida’s decision. “The state chooses to block a course that is meant for high achieving high school students to learn about their history of arts and culture. And it is incomprehensible,” Jean-Pierre said. She added, however, that the White House “does not dictate any curriculum for local schools.” 

Last year, Florida banned the teaching of critical race theory in schools, outlawing courses which say that a person by virtue of their race or sex is “morally superior” or “inherently racist, sexist, or oppressive, whether consciously or unconsciously.” Governor Ron DeSantis has described these ideas as “state-sanctioned racism” and vowed to bar them from the classrooms.

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