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Rule must show our students and educators some respect

TALLAHASSEE — The Florida Education Association believes that all our students deserve the best education possible. We believe further that educators deserve professional respect — for their earned expertise in teaching, for their commitment to a code of ethics that requires them to be impartial and uphold the truth and, above all, for their commitment to students.

As put forward by the Florida Department of Education, the proposed amendment to rule 6A-1.094124 falls short on both counts and appears to have a political, rather than educational, motive. As it stands, the “Required Instruction Planning and Reporting” rule amendment should be rejected by the State Board of Education when it meets Thursday in Jacksonville. However, the rule language could be corrected to better serve students and acknowledge educators as professionals while removing the politically charged language, such as the use of the word “indoctrinate.”

“Students deserve the best education we can provide, and that means giving them a true picture of their world and our shared history as Americans. Hiding facts doesn’t change them. Give kids the whole truth and equip them to make up their own minds and think for themselves,” said FEA President Andrew Spar. “If giving students a good education is the goal, the rule could be amended to say in part: ‘Instruction on the required topics must be factual and objective, and may not suppress or distort significant historical events, such as the Holocaust, slavery, the Civil War, Reconstruction and Jim Crow.’”

The FEA will submit proposed changes to the rule for consideration at the State Board of Education meeting on Thursday. Please find FEA’s proposed changes and our prepared comments on the rule amendment attached.

Every day across our state, public school teachers are trusted to teach and care for Florida’s children. Teachers earned this trust because they know that regardless of race, background or ZIP code, every child should get the education they deserve — an education that imparts honesty, integrity, independent critical thinking based on facts and the courage to do what is right. Public education was a uniquely American concept now adapted by countries around the world. These countries continue to look in awe at the United States for our ability to teach creative thinking and ingenuity. 

Our children must have the tools and guidance to face and understand our past and present in order to create a better future.

CONTACT: Joni Branch, joni.branch@floridaea.org, (850) 201-3223

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The Florida Education Association is the state’s largest association of professional employees, with 150,000 members. FEA represents PreK-12 teachers, higher education faculty, educational staff professionals, students at our colleges and universities preparing to become teachers and retired education employees.

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