TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Gov. Ron DeSantis brought up critical race theory Thursday while virtually appearing before the State Board of Education, saying that the state’s educational system needs to put “facts over narratives.”
“I think there are two issues here that are really fundamental,” the governor said. “We have to do history that is factual. If we do things that come out of critical race theory, it’s about trying to create narratives in history that are not grounded in fact.
“For example, this 1619 project that came out a few years ago – the folks who created it said the American Revolution was primarily fought to preserve slavery. That is factually false. That is something you can look at in the historical record.
“Want to know why they revolted against Britain? They told us. They wrote pamphlets. They did committees and correspondence. They did a Declaration of Independence. So trying to say that – that is not something that should be taught because there is no basis in fact.”
According to edweek.org, critical race theory is an academic concept that dates back more than 40 years.
“The core idea is that racism is a social construct, and that it is not merely the product of individual bias or prejudice, but also something embedded in legal systems and policies,” the organization noted on its website.
An example of critical race theory provided by the governor’s office included an elementary school in California having third graders deconstruct their racial identities and then ranking themselves according to their “power and privilege.”
“If you look at things that have happened around the country, in some of these places, there are really outrageous things going on about what they’re doing using critical race theory to run ideology of political activism as it’s at the forefront of education,” DeSantis said. “That’s not what we need to be doing in Florida. We need to be educating people, not trying to indoctrinate them with ideology.”
The governor’s office says the Palm Beach County School Board is attempting to implement critical race theory in Florida by approving a new “Equity Definition” and “Equity Statement” last month, which reads in part: “The School District of Palm Beach County is committed to dismantling structures rooted in white advantage and transforming our system by hearing and elevating underrepresented voices, sharing power, recognizing and eliminating bias, and redistributing resources to provide equitable outcomes.”
School Board member Debra Robinson, however, told the Palm Beach Post that it was important for the school district to define equity and draft a separate equity statement in addition to their mission statement.
“I think it was very important because different people use the word differently,” she said. “You need to say what equity is. Some people say equity but mean equality. It’s not the same.”
According to the newspaper, the school board defines equity as ensuring each student “will have access to the opportunities, resources, and support they need to imagine, nurture, and achieve their dreams.”
Equity is also highlighted in the school district’s new proposed mission statement, which states “The mission of the School District of Palm Beach County is to educate, affirm, and inspire each student in an equity-embedded school system.”