Republican Florida Rep. Byron Donalds and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’s top staff clashed on Wednesday over Florida’s new curriculum about the history of slavery.
Part of the curriculum, which was approved last week, will teach students that “slaves developed skills which, in some instances, could be applied for their personal benefit,” according to Florida’s 2023 State Academic Standards. This is also reflected in the progressive-praised 2023 AP African American history curriculum released by the College Board, which teaches that slaves “learned specialized trades and… used these skills to provide for themselves and others.”
Donalds took to Twitter on Wednesday and called the new standards “robust” but said that featuring the personal benefits of slavery is “wrong” and needed to be fixed.
“The new African-American standards in FL are good, robust, & accurate. That being said, the attempt to feature the personal benefits of slavery is wrong & needs to be adjusted,” Donalds said. “That obviously wasn’t the goal & I have faith that [Florida Department of Education] will correct this.”
DeSantis told reporters last Friday that he wasn’t involved in writing the new standards, but agreed with the notion that slaves “eventually parlayed” skills they learned into careers later in life. His top aides and officials condemned Donalds for his critique of the standards.
“We will not back down from teaching our nation’s true history at the behest of a woke White House, nor at the behest of a supposedly conservative congressman,” Florida’s Commissioner of Education, Manny Diaz, said on Twitter Wednesday.
“Supposed conservatives in the federal government are pushing the same false narrative that originated from the White House,” DeSantis spokesperson Jeremy Redfern tweeted. “Maybe the congressman shouldn’t swing for the liberal media fences like [the] VP.”
“Did Kamala Harris write this tweet?” Christina Pushaw, DeSantis’s rapid response director, tweeted in reply to Donalds, referencing previous comments made by Harris that Florida’s new curriculum is “revisionist history.”
Donalds responded that he supports the “vast majority” of African American history standards and called DeSantis’ team “disingenuous” for their attack.
“What’s crazy to me is I expressed support for the vast majority of the new African American history standards and happened to oppose one sentence that seemed to dignify the skills gained by slaves as a result of their enslavement,” Donald’s tweeted on Wednesday. “Anyone who can’t accurately interpret what I said is disingenuous and is desperately attempting to score political points. Just another reason why l’m proud to have endorsed President Donald J. Trump!”
Donalds and DeSantis did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
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