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Advocates say new Florida standards require slavery to be taught as 'beneficial'

More than two dozen people spoke out against the new standards for almost an hour at the board’s meeting in Orlando, before the board approved them.
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More than two dozen people spoke out against the new standards for almost an hour at the board’s meeting in Orlando, before the board approved them.

The Florida Board of Education on Wednesday approved a new set of standards for teaching African American history in the state.

More than two dozen people spoke out against the new standards for almost an hour at the board’s meeting in Orlando, before the board approved them.

The standards instruct teachers and administrators how to teach African American history in the state.

Central Florida Democratic Rep. Anna Eskamani said she’s deeply concerned by how the standards approach teaching the topic of slavery to K-12 kids.

“Especially some of the notions that enslaved people benefitted from being enslaved is inaccurate and a scary standard for us to establish in our educational curriculum," said Eskamani.

Central Florida Democratic Rep. Rita Harris echoed her concerns.

“My husband is Black, my daughter is Black, and the thought that slavery benefited them," said Harris. "How could that be taught? How can someone look at a child with a straight face and say that slavery benefited Black people?”

The Florida Department of Education says the new standards don’t teach that slavery was beneficial.

However, one of the benchmarks (SS.68.AA.2.3)states students will be taught, “how slaves developed skills which, in some instances, could be applied for their personal benefit.” 

Danielle Prieur is a general assignment reporter and fill-in host at WMFE.
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