Miami Parents Protest Over New Curriculum Ordering Educators to Teach Students Slaves ‘Developed Skills’ for Their ‘Personal Benefit”

by Xara Aziz
YouTube via CNN

A new education standard in Florida about Black history has parents outraged and demanding a reversal in the curriculum in a wave of protests that have grappled the community, according to multiple reports.  

Mayade Ersoff, a social studies teacher at a Miami-Dade school, said before the new standard was put in place, she would teach the history of slavery in America through art

“No one is agitated or upset,” Ersoff told CNN, adding that her students would ask questions because they were often intrigued to learn more about their history. “They don’t want to repeat what happened in the past.”

But now, she says she will have to tailor her lesson plans to a new rule, stating that middle school students will now have to learn “how slaves developed skills which, in some instances, could be applied for their personal benefit.”

Shortly after the new curriculum was put in place, close to 100 activists, parents and other members of the community took to the streets of Miami on Wednesday in protest.

The new standard comes on the heels of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ opposition to “woke” ideology, a key part of his campaign in his bid to win the the 2024 Republican presidential nomination

Before the new curriculum was set, DeSantis denounced the College Board’s AP African American Studies course for high school students because it comprised teachings on reparations, Black queer studies, and the Movement for Black Lives. He has also rejected lessons in schools that suggest anyone is advantaged or underprivileged based on their race.

DeSantis has agreed to the modifications of the Black history curriculum, observing that the AP African American Studies course also outlines how, “In addition to agricultural work, enslaved people learned specialized trades and worked as painters, carpenters, tailors, musicians, and healers in the North and South. Once free, [African] Americans used these skills to provide for themselves and others.”

While on a recent campaign stop, DeSantis said “scholars” wrote the new education standards and that it was not politically motivated. 

“They’re probably going to show that some of the folks that eventually parlayed being a blacksmith into doing things later in life,” he told reporters in July.

Since then, his remarks have caused repercussions, ensuing a culture war. Furthermore, teachers say they are now unsure about how to circumnavigate what they can and cannot say to their students.

“These standards are atrocious,” Ersoff said. “There are no benefits [to slavery]. There are no benefits to being grabbed from your home, shackled on boats, being lynched, being beaten. Not allowed to read and write. And treated like a piece of property.”

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