Florida has become the latest state to ban critical race theory, continuing the growing charge by Republican lawmakers against schools teaching about systemic racism.
After hours of debate and public comment Thursday, the Florida State Board of Education unanimously approved the amendment banning critical race theory. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who appointed much of the board, spoke ahead of the meeting, saying critical race theory would teach children “the country is rotten and that our institutions are illegitimate.”
“That is not worth any taxpayer dollars,” he said.
The amendment states topics must be “factual and objective,” and specifically prohibits “the teaching of Critical Race Theory, meaning the theory that racism is not merely the product of prejudice, but that racism is embedded in American society and its legal systems in order to uphold the supremacy of white persons.”
The amendment also bans material from the 1619 Project, a Pulitzer Prize-winning initiative by The New York Times that reframed American history around the date of August 1619, when the first slave ship arrived on America’s shores.
In a statement posted to Twitter, DeSantis said the amendment protects students from being “indoctrinated to think a certain way,” mirroring language used by other states and locales that have made similar moves.
“Critical Race Theory teaches kids to hate our country and to hate each other. It is state-sanctioned racism and has no place in Florida schools,” he wrote.
Critical race theory has become politicized in recent months, with opponents arguing the area of study is based on Marxism and is a threat to the American way of life. But critical race theory, according to scholars who study it, explores the ways in which a history of inequality and racism in the United States has continued to impact American society today.
“It’s an approach to grappling with a history of White supremacy that rejects the belief that what’s in the past is in the past and that the laws and systems that grow from that past are detached from it,” Kimberlé Crenshaw, a founding critical race theorist and a law professor at UCLA and Columbia University, told CNN last year.
And yet, across the country, local boards of education and states are pushing against teaching the impact of systemic racism and critical race theory in schools, calling it indoctrination.
Idaho, for example, passed a bill in May banning teaching in any public school that “any sex, race, ethnicity, religion, color, or national origin is inherently superior or inferior,” which, according to that bill, was often found in “critical race theory.”
Tennessee has banned teaching it, too.
Locally, the debate has surged, as well. In Florida, a teacher is suing a local school district for allegedly retaliating after she spoke up about racism and hung a Black Lives Matter flag.
And in Texas, a small town became divided over an attempt to address racism in its local schools, with a group of residents, politicians and a local political action committee vehemently opposing “critical race theory,” claiming it would “indoctrinate children according to extremely liberal beliefs.”