FL Shouldn’t Teach Slaves ‘Developed Skills’ or Ban AP Course Saying They ‘Learned’ Trades

On Friday’s broadcast of MSNBC’s “The Last Word,” visitor host Ali Velshi and National Education Association (NEA) President Becky Pringle criticized Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) for a provision within the state’s social research requirements about “how slaves developed skills which, in some instances, could be applied for their personal benefit.” And additionally criticized DeSantis for not adopting the Advanced Placement (AP) African American research course whose language says that slaves “learned specialized trades” and “used these skills to provide for themselves and others” as soon as they have been free. Pringle particularly acknowledged that the notion that slaves “acquired skills” is “outrageous” to show.

Velshi acknowledged, “I’m shocked that on Friday night, days after this, we’re — we continue to have this conversation. I’m amazed and grateful that Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) — who sometimes finds it difficult to take a strong position on things — has come out and said the obvious that this was a ridiculous thing for Ron DeSantis to say. But that’s not the important part. The important part is, this is going to go into school curriculums. Children will grow up believing this nonsense.”

Pringle then mentioned, “It is outrageous, outrageous that the Florida Governor continues to try to limit the right of our students to learn the complete, honest, true history of this country. He continues to threaten teachers and other educators who are trying to make sure that their students learn that complete, honest history. It is outrageous. And when you think about, talking about enslaved people, those people who were beaten and raped and killed and mutilated, separated from their families, and you’re going to say, in the same breath, that they acquired skills or it was a good thing? That’s what we’re teaching our students in Florida? I don’t think so, Ali. And I can tell you that the teachers and educators in Florida are standing up and doing everything to fight against and turn around these standards.”

She added, “You fight back by arming yourself with information. … You fight back by standing up every single time our students’ right to learn and our teachers’ right to teach is threatened. And we will not stop, we will not stop. I am so proud of the teachers there in the Florida Education Association, their President, Andrew Spar, who have been speaking out against, not only these standards, but you know Ali, this goes way back to when Ron DeSantis got involved in the AP African American studies. And this is not someone who is a historian. He is not an educator. He hasn’t spent a day in our classrooms. And he is trying to make teaching and learning decisions for our students. It’s not okay, and we will not stand for it.”

Velshi then wrapped the interview by saying, “I’m surprised that we’ve gotten to a point in Florida where that AP kerfuffle almost seems quaint by comparison to what they are trying to do now.”

The AP course that Pringle and Velshi promoted and criticized DeSantis for not permitting says, “In addition to agricultural work, enslaved people learned specialized trades and worked as painters, carpenters, tailors, musicians, and healers in the North and South. Once free, American Americans [sic] used these skills to provide for themselves and others.”

The Florida framework that they criticized says, “Instruction includes how slaves developed skills which, in some instances, could be applied for their personal benefit.”

Follow Ian Hanchett on Twitter @IanHanchett

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