Ron DeSantis’ Controversial Slavery Curriculum Stirs National Debate

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has pushed several controversial laws since obtaining office in 2019. The latest curriculum change by the Florida Department of Education propelled the state and its leader into the national limelight yet again. Florida educators must now teach students that slavery benefitted the enslaved.

“They’re probably going to show that some of the folks that eventually parlayed, you know, being a blacksmith into doing things later in life,” DeSantis defended the new plan in a press conference.

The Florida Department of Education’s (DOE) new African American Studies course outlines how slaves developed “skills” that could be applied for their personal benefit.

DeSantis claims this decision is “rooted in whatever is factual.” He told the media that the action was not politically motivated but purely educational. “If you have any questions about it, just ask the Department of Education. But I mean, these were scholars that put this together. This is not anything that was done politically.”

This shift follows on the heels of the Stop W.O.K.E. Act, which DeSantis signed into law in 2022. The Act’s primary purpose is to “stand against the state-sanctioned racism that is critical race theory.”

According to DeSantis, Florida tax dollars should not be spent on “teaching kids to hate our country or to hate each other.” The act extends to the corporate world, where Florida employees will be “protected” from “CRT (Critical Race Theory)-inspired training and “indoctrination.”

READ NEXT: Teachers Fleeing “Toxic” Florida Universities Amid Crackdown on Teaching Rules and Practices

Although DeSantis stated that he did not play a direct role in the changes, his Stop W.O.K.E. Act strengthened the enforcement authority of the Department of Education and codified its prohibition on teaching critical race theory in K-12 schools.

The Nation’s Outcry

The nation is reeling from this latest move coming out of Florida. Across state lines and federally, officials are criticizing DeSantis and the Florida DOE.

Vice President Kamala Harris spoke out against the new curriculum at the national convention of the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority. “They push forward revisionist history,” she said. “Just yesterday, in the state of Florida, they decided middle school students will be taught that enslaved people benefited from slavery. They insult us in an attempt to gaslight us, and we will not stand for it—we who share a collective experience in knowing we must honor history and our duty in the context of legacy.”

She traveled to Jacksonville, Florida, on July 21st—two days after the DOE’s announcement—to further condemn the change. “They want to replace history with lies.”

She made it clear that there was no positive to slavery, emphasizing that it involved “some of the worst examples of depriving people of humanity in our world.”

A Blow To His Candidacy?

This new curriculum could cost DeSantis the Republican primary. The governor intends to run for president in 2024, but this latest strike might set him back.

Potential Republican candidates have rebuked the governor. Will Hurd, a former Texas congressman also running for president, said, “Slavery is not a jobs program. Anybody that is implying that there was an upside to slavery is insane.”

Black Republicans are not happy with DeSantis. “It raises eyebrows,” Diante Johnson, president of the Black Conservative Federation, said. “Ron DeSantis is not the candidate for Black conservatives and that’s what [DeSantis] constantly, constantly exhibits to us.”

Within the Florida Congress, Representative Byron Donalds stated that the new change is “wrong and needs to be adjusted.”

Presidential hopeful and current South Carolina Senator Tim Scott joined in condemning DeSantis. Scott is DeSantis’ strongest competition to beat Trump for the GOP nomination. 

While campaigning in Iowa, Scott told reporters, “As a country founded upon freedom, the greatest deprivation of freedom was slavery. There is no silver lining… in slavery… What slavery was really about [was] separating families, about mutilating humans, and even r*ping their wives. It was just devastating. So, I would hope that every person in our country—and certainly running for president—would appreciate that.”

READ NEXT: Gen Z: Why Is Everyone So Okay With Working 40-60 Hours Per Week to Barely Afford Life?

Defending the Curriculum

DeSantis doubled down against his critics. “Part of the reason our country has struggled is because D.C. Republicans all too often accept false narratives, accept lies that are perpetrated by the left. And to accept the lie that Kamala Harris has been perpetrating even when that has been debunked, that’s not the way you do it.”

This pushback was not well-received. DeSantis may find himself isolated from the rest of the party if he continues on this path. Michigan Representative John James (Republican) said to the governor, “There are only five black Republicans in Congress, and you’re attacking two of them. My brother in Christ, if you find yourself in a deep hole, put the shovel down.”

As January approaches, the nation will keep a close eye on Florida and its leader to gauge how the Republican primary—and the larger 2024 presidential election—will pan out.

This article was produced and syndicated by TPR Teaching. Source. Featured Image by Andrew Cline on Shutterstock.


I'm an Irish tutor and founder of TPR Teaching. I started teaching in 2016 and have since taught in the UK, Spain, and online.

I love learning new things about the English language and how to teach it better. I'm always trying to improve my knowledge, so I can better meet the needs of others!

I enjoy traveling, nature walks, and soaking up a new culture. Please share the posts if you find them helpful!

Leave a Comment