Florida Education Standards Under Fire: Bipartisan Leaders Join Rep. Cherfilus-McCormick in Condemning Revisionist History on Slavery

U.S. Rep. Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick.

U.S. Rep. Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick.

By Bryan Boggiano

Rep. Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick (D-FL-20) introduced a resolution “condemning revisionist history as it relates to the African-American experience,” specifically slavery.

Cherfilus-McCormick introduced the resolution in response to social studies education standards from the Florida Department of Education.

Florida’s 216-page social studies education handbook describes benchmarks, objectives, and learning material for American history, Floridian history, world history, African American history, Holocaust education, geography, economics, civics, financial literacy, and government structure.

In the African American history subject area for grades six through eight, one of the criteria states to examine the various duties and trades enslaved people performed, such as agricultural work, blacksmithing, and transportation.

The benchmark clarification states, “Instruction includes how slaves developed skills which, in some instances, could be applied for their personal benefit,” came under fire for whitewashing the various atrocities, violence, racism, and human rights violations that characterized slavery.

That line attracted bipartisan criticism, including from Vice President Kamala Harris, Rep. Byron Donalds (R-FL-19), Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL-25), and Rep. Wesley Hunt (R-TX-38).

Cherfilus-McCormick joined Harris in Jacksonville on July 21 to condemn the state’s education standards.

“Slavery was a scar on the moral fabric of our nation. To suggest otherwise is not just a distortion; it is an affront to the countless souls who suffered under a horrific and vile institution,” Cherfilus-McCormick said in a press release.

She continued, “The systematic practice of brutality and cruelty against African Americans — which included rape, torture, murder, and using children as alligator bait — should not be associated with any benefit.”

The resolution also condemns attacks on education, such as banning critical race theory; diversity, equity, and inclusion programs and initiatives; and affirmative action.

Cherfilus-McCormick’s resolution has about 20 cosponsors, including Reps. Kathy Castor (D-FL-14), Maxwell Frost (D-FL-10), and Frederica Wilson (D-FL-24).

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Avatar of Bryan Boggiano
Bryan Boggiano
A University of Florida journalism graduate, Bryan plans to pursue geosciences at Florida International University for his master's. He has a strong interest in weather, entertainment, and journalism.
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