‘Giving Me Dictator Vibes’: Ron DeSantis’ Administration Removes Copy About George Floyd and Colin Kaepernick from Textbooks to Stop the ‘Indoctrination of Children’

Textbook publishers are under scrutiny in the Sunshine State of Florida. Under its “Stop W.O.K.E. Act,” certain topics dealing with civil unrest are not allowed to be printed in social studies textbooks taught in public schools.

The Florida Department of Education determines what lessons in history are either a) inaccurate, b) considered an “unsolicited topic, or c) not aligned with the law.

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Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is under scrutiny again for removing copy from history books. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

For the upcoming school year, school books aimed to teach civics and social studies will steer clear of topics like the murder of George Floyd, the 2020 summer of civil unrest, Colin Kaepernick kneeling during the national anthem, and the Black Lives Matter movement. New laws like the “Stop W.O.K.E. Act” have given those in charge of public education more leverage to censor history that highlights abuse to Black and Brown people.

Bryan Griffin, press secretary for Gov. Ron DeSantis, tweeted to his constituency that his administration was on the job, shutting down what they consider is the “indoctrination” of Florida’s youth.

“The political indoctrination of children through the K-12 public education system is a very real and prolific problem in this country. All CAUGHT & all FIXED under @GovRonDeSantis’ watch,” he tweeted.

The Stop the Wrongs to Our Kids and Employees Act is believed to be an effort to protect teachers and students by codifying “the Florida Department of Education’s prohibition on teaching critical race theory in K-23 schools” and ensuring school districts, colleges, and universities from hiring CRT consultants.

This is accomplished, according to the Individual Freedoms Act (IFA) passed in Congress in 2022, by “revising requirements for required instruction on the history of African Americans; requiring the department to prepare and offer certain standards and curriculum; authorizing the department to seek input from a specified organization for certain purposes; [and prohibiting] instructional materials reviewers from recommending instructional materials that contain any matter that contradicts certain principles.”

Against the IFA political backdrop, the state made textbook publishers remove certain material from the books like paragraphs slated to appear in a middle school textbook under the heading, ‘New Calls For Social Justice” that talked about the rise of BLM in 2013, the death of Floyd and the demonstrations that popped up across the country in response to his death.

The state called this section an “unsolicited topic.”

“To uphold our exceptional standards, we must ensure our students and teachers have the highest quality materials available – materials that focus on historical facts and are free from inaccuracies or ideological rhetoric,” Florida Commissioner of Education Manny Diaz said in a written statement according to WPTV.

Hillsborough School Board member Jessica Vaughn responded that she had “many emotions” about the intervention, but chief among them is “fear,” Tampa Bay Times reports.

“I’m afraid of the pattern of erasing or trying to rewrite history because to me this is right out of the playbook of fascism,” she said.

One critic of Desantis took to social media and said it is “giving me dictator vibes. I would never step foot in Florida. The whole state gives me the creeps.”

NovaSky wrote, “They are afraid of an educated public and have actively been working to undermine the education system for decades. This is typical of Desantis and their ilk. Rewriting history is just one part of their agenda. Anything but actual governance and solutions that will make the country better. Evil.”

One example of copy pulled from an elementary school textbook lesson dealt with symbols that represent the United States and asked parents/guardians to “talk to your child about the National Anthem,” and “use this as an opportunity to talk about why some citizens are choosing to ‘Take a Knee’ to protest police brutality and racism.”

Also removed were lessons on socialism that spoke about the societal type in positive terms like this form of government “keeps things nice and even and without unnecessary waste,” and it “may promote greater equality among people while still providing a fully functioning government-supervised economy.”

Stephana Farrell, the director of research and insight at Florida Freedom to Read Project, believes this rejection of history could have a larger impact on the nation.

“Florida has five of the top 10 school districts in the country. What happens in Florida — and the adjustments large textbook companies make at the state’s request — could have impacts on what’s adopted in other states, too,” she said according to the Miami Herald, warning to the public, “This is the chilling effect at work.”

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