Anti-DeSantis Toolkit: How Leftist Groups Resist Florida’s Education Standards

As Florida’s Republican Governor and 2024 presidential hopeful Ron DeSantis has tackled decisively otherwise omnipotent far-left ideology in school curriculums, some nonprofits and church groups are staging a pushback over the state’s “banned books” which they claim are vital to teaching black history.

According to a seemingly pro-leftist report by The Hill, otherwise deemed a centrist news outlet, Florida’s residents are now “uniting” in “churches, parks, and homes” because the DeSantis administration earlier this year rejected the College Board’s Advanced Placement African American Studies course over far-left “indoctrination” and critical race theory.

‘Black Queerness’ and Marxism-Leninism

In January, the DeSantis office issued a list of concerns over the course curriculum questioning the teaching of notions such as “Black Queerness.”

An earlier draft quoted by ABC 7 Chicago slammed the course contents for teachings on the Black Panther Party – which espoused “Marxism-Leninism” and sought to “overthrow the American government.”

The Hill’s report points out that the DeSantis administration was also worried by topics such as “intersectionality,” the demands of slavery reparations, and the Black Lives Matter movement.

BLM’s founders don’t hide their Marxism-Communism affiliations, as underscored by The Heritage Foundation in a 2021 report.

Pushing Intersectionality, Prison Abolition

“What’s one of the lessons [in the rejected course curriculum] about? Queer theory,” DeSantis said earlier this year, as quoted by The Hill’s report.  

“Now, who would say that an important part of Black history is queer theory? That is somebody pushing an agenda on our kids,” the governor added.

“And so when you look to see they have stuff about intersectionality, abolishing prisons, that’s a political agenda. And so we’re on — that’s the wrong side of the line for Florida standards,” he argued further.

‘Throwing Themselves’ to Resist

According to The Hill, Florida entities are now busy “throwing themselves into efforts” to use the rejected books to teach black history to willing individuals.

It quotes University of Florida political science professor Sharon Wright Austin, who says that “even” her 17-year-old daughter and others are meeting at their houses to do “reading on their own” and discussing “different books.”

‘Tsunami of Criticism’

The report further alleges that rejecting the College Board’s AP course over far-left indoctrination has sparked a “tsunami of criticism” against DeSantis.

Among those resisting is Pastor Rhonda Thomas, who presides over a nonprofit called “Faith in Florida” (FIF).

She claims that Florida’s governor and other Republicans are trying to propagate “an inaccurate and diluted version” of black history.

‘Jeopardized and Threatened’

Thomas insisted that Florida’s House Bill 7 has caused the teaching of African American history to be “jeopardized and threatened in a way of it not being taught in a truthful manner, but this watered-down version … that was just crazy.”

Leftist activists were further enraged over the summer over reports that the state’s new education standards suggested that “slaves developed skills which, in some instances, could be applied for their personal benefit.”

‘Bible of Anti-Americanism’

FIF has reacted by putting together a “toolkit” of reading material and videos for anyone seeking the teaching of black history “through the lens of truth.”

The toolkit features the book “White Fragility” by Robin DiAngelo, which one pastor characterized as the “bible” of anti-Americanism and anti-Christian thought.

Other titles include “Between the World and Me” by leftist journalist Ta-Nehisi Coates and “Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave.”

Anti-DeSantis Toolkit

The report notes that 290 churches in Florida have sought the toolkit since it was launched in July, and so have groups from other states, including non-black churches and non-Christian organizations.

“Once this toolkit went out, we also had churches that are led by white faith leaders and Muslims register to teach Black History,” Thomas said.

“What stands out is that these states are just as concerned because many times they know that whatever takes place in Florida, eventually it’s going to hit our states as well,” she predicted. 

‘Uninhabited’ Teaching of Black History

The report states that people wishing to function “outside of the public school systems” are also interested in the FIF toolkit to be “uninhabited” in teaching black history.

According to Austin, the University of Florida professor, some educators have decided to organize readings of the “banned books.”

Those include a second-grade teacher who is staging a “banned book reading session,” with others forming groups “spontaneously” to resist “attacks” on education.

Even Books Yet to Be ‘Removed’

The scholar claims the efforts focus on classic books already being eliminated from schools or likely to be removed in the “very near future.”

The Hill’s report points out that the organizers of such initiatives would not have the same reach as the Florida public schools with its 3 million students, but they are still working to promote their “cause.”

Among those is the Association for the Study of African American Life and History, which, during a September conference in Jacksonville, Florida, gave a seminar entitled “Banned Book Readout.” 

‘Holistic’ Fighting

According to Katie Blankenship, an operative of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Florida, the “newfound connections” in question are vital to organizing “statewide resistance to educational censorship.”

She vowed that the ACLU would use “integrated advocacy” to fight on the issue “holistically.”

Blankenship added ACLU’s coalition in the state, “Free to Be Florida,” which exists in over 25 counties but seeks to cover the entire state, would be instrumental in tackling what she described as a “gross overstatement overstep by this extremist Florida legislature.” 

‘Fine’ to Hate ‘Evil White People’

The Hill’s report on “grassroots” resistance to the elimination of leftist materials by Florida’s administration has been slammed by some social media users.

“It’s not black history; it’s just teaching kids that America is systematically racist and it’s fine to hate “evil” white people,” commented an X user named Ghost of America.

“And what’s wrong with hating evil white people? We must topple the hate coming forth from evil white people collectively as a whole in this country,” responded a user with the name UCANTKEEPBLKMANDOWN, alongside a meme showing former President Donald Trump wearing a Nazi swastika armband.

“Nothing is banned, stop lying!” wrote a user using the handle 2A.

While the DeSantis administration enjoys hefty popular support in Florida, the lingering fight with the lefties in the state doesn’t seem like it would be put to rest any time soon – likely not until the nation as a whole settles the massive culture war. 

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This article was produced by TPR Teaching. Featured Image: Hunter Crenian//Shutterstock

Caitriona Maria is an education writer and founder of TPR Teaching, crafting inspiring pieces that promote the importance of developing new skills. For 7 years, she has been committed to providing students with the best learning opportunities possible, both domestically and abroad. Dedicated to unlocking students' potential, Caitriona has taught English in several countries and continues to explore new cultures through her travels.

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