PALM BEACH COUNTY, Fla. — How African American history is taught in Florida schools continues to create controversy after the state board of education approved new standards last month.
Hundreds of teachers, students, and community members on Wednesday marched to the Miami-Dade School Board in protest. Hours later, a group of Palm Beach County leaders came together to echo some of the same messages.
SPECIAL COVERAGE: Education
The Coalition for Black Student Achievement and other groups came together Wednesday to speak to Palm Beach County School Board members and give them specific facts.
Their campaign called "Black Facts, Not Fiction" is designed to show how African American history can be taught without what they call "editorialized statements" from the state
"We’re pushing back on the fictionalized versions and inaccurate versions of Black history," said Lia Gaines with the Coalition for Black Student Achievement. "We’re charging our district to continue moving forward to teaching this history."
Earlier on Wednesday, crowds packed the streets, heading to the Miami-Dade School Board, also frustrated with the state of African American history education in Florida.
"History is neither bad nor good. It just is," said Richard Ryles, the chair of the Palm Beach County Black Caucus.
It's all a reaction to new state standards that Florida education leaders call a robust education about African American history.
But one line continues to draw criticism. It's a clarifying statement that says "instruction includes how slaves developed skills which, in some instances, could be applied for their personal benefit."
"If you look at that standard, there are other ways to teach that part of the standard," Gaines said. "We feel that is editorializing how slaves felt about being skilled people."
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has defended the standards, saying critics are intentionally misinterpreting one line in curriculum.
Those gathered Wednesday said the ultimate goal is support educators in teaching accurate history.
"We’re here to tell teachers it’s your obligation to teach, and we’re gonna show you how," said Dr. Debra Robinson, the chair of the Coalition for Black Student Achievement who spent more than 20 years on the Palm Beach County School Board.
The campaign doesn't stop here. Leaders said they will continue their campaign of "Black Facts, Not Fiction" and spread the message through community forums workshops and events.
During a Palm Beach County School Board meeting on Wednesday, Superintendent Mike Burke addressed the issue and said he understands the concerns and wants to assure the community the School District of Palm Beach County will continue to teach African American history with the standards that have been in place for years.
Burke added the district will be very careful once the new standards are rolled out, and will maintain its integrity in teaching accurate history.