Florida’s new African American history standards have managed to rattle just about everyone. As it turns out, teaching that slavery benefitted enslaved people is a step even hardcore conservatives feel the need to quibble with. But as the initial shock wore off, the inevitable question was, “who the hell signed off on this?”
Now, we finally have a window into what went down. NBC News reportedly spoke to three members of the working group put together to develop the new standards. And what they had to say was shocking.
According to the three anonymous members, a majority of the group opposed the more controversial sections, including the infamous suggestion that schools teach that enslaved people benefited from slavery by learning new skills.
It wasn’t just the slavery sections that they took issue with over the course of developing the standards. The three members told NBC News that the majority of the working group disagreed with the requirement that schools need to teach about violence perpetuated by African-Americans when discussing horrific acts of violence against Black Americans, including the Tulsa Race Massacre. (Seriously, that’s in the curriculum).
“Most of us did not want that language,” one member told NBC News.
All of this begs the question if the working group was mostly against these additions, who actually green-lit this mess? According to the interviews with NBC, only two members pushed for the language, William Allen and Frances Presley Rice. (They’re both Black Republicans). Despite the group’s disagreement, the three members said the pair was incredibly persuasive. The standards were later unanimously approved by the Florida Board of Education. The standards were later trumpeted by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who has dedicated his time in office to dismantling Florida’s education system.
No one who worked on these standards should be completely off the hook, but it is some interesting insight into the most disastrous education roll-out to date.