Florida’s new gag rule will have a frightening effect in classrooms.

Florida joined the list of states which bcritical race theory in the classroom. It is likely to have a chilling effect on classrooms across the state.

Other states have adopted, or are considering, legislation that forbids general subjects such as “divisive ideas” or the idea that an individual, “because of their race or gender, is inherently racist, sexist or oppressive”. Oklahoma law says that concepts such as the idea that “everyone must experience discomfort, guilt, anguish or any other form of psychological distress because of their race or gender” cannot be part of ‘A class. The list is usually made up of characteristics that opponents of Critical Race Theory claim it contains.

But Tom Grady, member of the Education Council took Florida rule a step further by explicitly forbidding the theory of critical race and the 1619 project, as well as explicitly forbidding any idea that racism is in any way systemic or “ingrained in American society.”

The rule manages to be both precise and vague; Like many of these bills, it offers a definition of CRT that supporters of CRT would not necessarily recognize. Attempts at clarification are not necessarily helpful; when the department was asked to teach Ocoee Massacre, a 1920 attack by a white mob on a black community, a reporter was told, apparently in writing, “The Ocoee massacre was a historic event. Like all historical events, it will be taught in depth.

Opponents of CRT seem to think history can be taught simply in the form of facts, numbers and dates, but it is an approach that is not very faithful to historical studies, not to say boring for students. . And it’s not as easy as some claim. For years the Tulsa Race Massacre was known as the Tulsa Race Riot; Simply naming an event can be a choice fraught with considerable meaning, interpretation, and perspective. Much more than “simple” facts.

Teachers are prohibited to “share their personal opinions or attempt to indoctrinate or persuade students of a particular point of view” which is inconsistent with state standards. This is a huge and vague directive, making any kind of expression of belief by a teacher a possible violation.

This is all important because classroom teachers exist where these kinds of drastic laws meet real practice. All teachers in some states know for sure right now that there is a politically charged mainline, and no one knows exactly where it is.

In Kentucky, the penalty for crossing that line is $ 5,000. But in Florida, it could be a lot worse.

That’s because Florida years ago abolished due process (sometimes called tenure) for teachers. Newly hired Florida teacher on contracted for a year, and at the end of that year, the district can either rehire that teacher or not. If they choose not to, they don’t have to give a reason, which has given school districts the power to get rid of teachers who cause problems, even if the problem is to defend the students.

Some school administrators are going to be averse to the risk and simply ban teachers from doing anything that could in any way come close to this line which has yet to be revealed. Others may be frightened by the parental response; at West Broward High School, the Deputy Principal briefly suspended the distribution of the school directory, because directory staff did what directory staff do. They had marked the memorable topics of the year, but one of them was Black Lives Matter, and the office got angry phone calls. Ultimately, the district inserted a letter into the books saying it was a student publication and that not all political views “are sponsored by the district.” This directory counselor should now know that his district is not supporting him.

Another district is currently defending itself in a lawsuit brought by teacher Amy Donofrio, who was put in “teachers’ jail” for defying the district over its treatment of black students and staff and for hanging a Black Lives Matter banner outside her classroom. Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran used it as an example indoctrination, and briefly tried to take credit for firing her (he hadn’t). A BLM banner is not part of critical breed theory, but in the state of Florida it can come close enough.

Meanwhile, groups are looking for schools to hold the fire. Parents defend education, a new advocacy group Directed by Conservative advocacy veteran Nicole Neily, offers a page on its site to “report an incident” if you suspect that “indoctrination” is taking place in your school district (the Lieutenant Governor of Idaho offers a similar opportunity).

The FL Citizens Alliance, a 501C3 active on Twitter, “dedicated to providing citizens with resources to improve K-12 education” last week warned that Collier County public schools would hold a hearing on language arts textbooks “which are full of Critical Race Theory (CRT) and its many tentacles (ex. ‘fairness’, ‘diversity’, BLM, project) 1619, social and emotional learning, etc.) ”suggesting that for some people the definition of now prohibited material has broadened to include a long list of unrelated items (nothing in this list is directly related to CRT , and some articles, such as socio-emotional learning, are completely separate).

At the hearing, a district official and board member who had read the books cover to cover insisted that there was “no critical race theory evidence” in the books. books or in any of the additional documents. Nonetheless, the meeting turned heated as parents opposed the promotion of liberal ideology and Marxist views.

In this environment, and without job protection, teachers will want to keep their heads down and avoid any problems, avoiding any discussion of race-related issues in their classrooms. In a state where only 36% of public school students are white, this could be a real challenge.

A member of the Council of State would have suggested that teachers will need more professional development to better understand what they are prohibited from teaching; it would be a new kind of anti-professional development. More than a few observers have suggested that Governor Ron DeSantis use this question as a opportunity to raise his presidential profile 2024, so he would have no reason to worry about what, exactly, teachers are not supposed to do. With the ban in place, teacher training courses will need to cover the issue of what new teachers should avoid; Ironically, the ban will virtually ensure that critical race theory will now be taught in all state college teacher education programs.

About Hector Hedgepeth

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