May 21, 2024

Republican congressman faces wrath of DeSantis campaign with call to ‘correct’ Black history standards

Republican US Rep Byron Donalds has repeatedly echoed other GOP officials in a specious crusade against “critical race theory” and “woke” indoctrination in American schools.

But on 26 July, the Florida congressman called on Florida’s Department of Education to “correct” newly approved curriculum guidelines for middle school students to learn how enslaved people “developed skills” that could be “applied for personal benefit”.

“The new African-American standards in FL are good, robust, [and] accurate,” he wrote on Twitter, now known as X. “That being said, the attempt to feature the personal benefits of slavery is wrong [and] needs to be adjusted. That obviously wasn’t the goal [and] I have faith that FLDOE will correct this.”

In an interview with Florida’s WINK-TV, Mr Donalds, who is Black, suggested the standards need “some adjustments” and that Florida’s Board of Education could “bring refinement” to the curriculum standards for African American history lessons that the board unanimously approved earlier this month.

The standards have been widely derided by educators, Democratic officials and the White House; Vice President Kamala Harris traveled to the state last week to condemn “propaganda” and the “extremist, so-called leaders” who support it, a not-so-thinly veiled strike against Governor Ron DeSantis and his 2024 campaign for the Republican nomination for president.

After his comments, Mr Donalds felt the wrath of the DeSantis campaign and other state officials.

“Did Kamala Harris write this tweet?” replied DeSantis aide Christina Pushaw.

Florida’s Education Commissioner Manny Diaz Jr said that the state standards would not be changed “at the behest of a woke [White House], nor at the behest of a supposedly conservative congressman.”

“Supposed conservatives in the federal government are pushing the same false narrative that originated from the [White House],” said DeSantis press secretary Jeremy Redfern.

“Florida isn’t going to hide the truth for political convenience,” he added. “Maybe the congressman shouldn’t swing for the liberal media fences like [the vice president].”

In March, Mr Donalds joined other prominent Florida Republicans to endorse Donald Trump for president.

“The Congressman also calls it like he sees it, and if he thinks something is BS, he’ll tell you. That’s why we like him so much,” said Trump aide Jason Miller, who called attempts to “smear” Mr Donalds “a disgrace”.

Mr Donalds responded to the inter-party backlash, stating that “anyone who can’t accurately interpret what I said is disingenuous and is desperately attempting to score political points.”

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