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SB 148/HB 7: Race and history as a minefield? Educators raise concerns

TALLAHASSEE — The educators of the Florida Education Association, the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers have significant concerns about Florida Senate Bill 148/House Bill 7, which seeks to further regulate the teaching of America’s history as related to slavery, segregation, racism and sexism. The leaders of the three unions recently issued statements regarding the Senate bill, which was referred favorably Jan. 18 by the Senate Education Committee and will be heard next in the Senate Rules Committee. SB 148’s House companion, HB 7, is scheduled to be considered by the House Judiciary Committee at its meeting today, 8-11 a.m.

Andrew Spar, president of the Florida Education Association:

“The most important issue for the Legislature to address this session is the teacher and staff shortage. The shortage has been driven in part by policy that has limited educators’ freedom to teach, in this case accurate history and facts. This bill serves only to undermine students’ education and further fray the fabric that holds us together as Americans.”

Becky Pringle, president of the National Education Association:

“Whatever their color, background or ZIP code, parents and teachers want to give kids an education that allows them to grow and thrive. They want them to have an education that imparts honesty about who we are, integrity in how we treat each other, and freedom to pursue our dreams. A great public school education also helps students prepare for their future by encouraging curiosity and critical thinking through art and music, math and science, and history and literature. But now some politicians not only in Florida but elsewhere around the country want to limit what history our kids can learn about and what books they can read. They want to censor the truth of our history, passing laws to ban learning from the mistakes of our past and erase leaders like Martin Luther King Jr. who stood up to racism and changed our country for the better. We should trust educators and parents — not politicians — to ensure our kids get the best education possible — and have the freedom to learn.” 

Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers:

“No modern-day teacher would consider it morally acceptable to ‘both sides’ the Holocaust, or ‘both sides’ slavery or ‘both sides’ the three-fifths compromise. But that’s what this pernicious bill implies. We know its sponsor cares about freedom and local control — this is the opposite. It puts politicians in charge of classrooms and creates a very real chilling effect on teachers by turning any discussion about race and history into a minefield. Kids need to learn the good and the bad about America, without politics getting in the way. We don’t tell students what to think; we teach them how to think. And parents want their children to be well-informed, well-read, engaged citizens.”

Contact: Joni Branch, joni.branch@floridaea.org

 

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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, educational staff professionals, higher education faculty and graduate assistants, students at our colleges and universities preparing to become teachers, and retired education employees. Connect with FEA on Facebook, Twitter and at https://feaweb.org.

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