NEA Head and MSNBC Pounce on FL Curriculum Teaching That Some Slaves ‘Developed Skills’

NEA Head and MSNBC Pounce on FL Curriculum Teaching That Some Slaves ‘Developed Skills’

July 31, 2023

Friday on MSNBC’s The Last Word, guest host Ali Velshi and National Education Association (NEA) President Becky Pringle lied about Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) for a provision in the state’s social studies standards about “how slaves developed skills which, in some instances, could be applied for their personal benefit.” Pringle stated that teaching the notion that slaves “acquired skills” is “outrageous.”

Velshi stated, “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 [sic]. Children will grow up believing this nonsense.”

Pringle then said, “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.”

This exercise in race-mongering propaganda is typical of the Left’s attacks on DeSantis, a political threat whom they are desperate to paint as racist. In fact, the single sentence in the Florida curriculum that Pringle and Velshi slammed merely notes that “Instruction includes how slaves developed skills which, in some instances, could be applied for their personal benefit.”

This is simply historical fact, not a whitewashing of the ugliness of slavery or an attempt to paint the institution as a “jobs program,” as some on the Left are claiming. No one is trying to assert that slavery was a social positive. But it is simply historical fact that some blacks did acquire skills that later better helped them navigate post-slavery life than those who didn’t.

What this controversy is about is this: the Left will fight tooth-and-nail to make sure slavery is taught only in the context of smearing America as uniquely racist and oppressive in the history of slavery, which was a universal practice until white Christians in America and England uniquely ended it. And it provides them with the opportunity to weaponize faux outrage against their political opponents like DeSantis, who terrifies the Left more than Trump does.

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