Salon outraged over DeSantis, Florida education standards

July 8, 2022

By Tim Worstall

Salon is outraged that people are following Gov. Ron DeSantis and Florida’s example of writing standards for education.

Specifically, and probably explaining the ire, social studies standards for K-12. Isn’t everyone aware that these are things to be taught religiously – possibly not quite the right word – woke and progressive lines?

This is what they’re complaining about, too: 

In late June, a conservative education coalition called the Civics Alliance released a new set of social studies standards for K-12 schools, with the intention of promoting it as a model for states nationwide. These standards, entitled “American Birthright,” are framed as yet another corrective to supposedly “woke” public schools, where, according to Republicans, theoretical frameworks like critical race theory are only one part of a larger attack on the foundations of American democracy.

There is a logical point to be made here. If the current standards aren’t “woke,” then conservative versions won’t differ all that much from what is currently taught. It’s only if these proposals are significantly different from what is currently taught that there can be any problem with them.

That is, the very complaints show that there’s something significantly different about these new standards. This means we should have a look to see if we disagree with these new standards – that tells us how far from reality the current standards are then, doesn’t it? 

As Salon says: 

(Slides from the training presentation noted that enslaved people in the U.S. only accounted for 4% of the trans-Atlantic slave trade, which both minimizes the number of people ultimately enslaved in America and suggests that other countries’ slavery practices were worse.)

Well, it’s a fact that arrivals in the U.S. were some 4% or so of the Atlantic slave trade. If we add in the trans-Saharan, the East Coast and the Arab trade then more like 1 or 2% of the depredations upon sub-Saharan Africa over the centuries. Include European slavery and others and the number falls again. This is simply fact and perhaps children should be taught facts?

All slavery was vile but yes, those of other places were worse too. Sugar plantations were worse than cotton, Brazilian and Caribbean slavery often much worse than American for that reason. There can be levels of worse vileness that is. Teaching children this would be a good idea, no?

Or when we get into the details of the standards being complained of:

It also recommends the following Supreme Court Cases: Marbury v. Madison (1803), McCulloch v. Maryland (1819), Brown v. Board of Education (1954), Dred Scott v. Sandford (1857), Plessy v. Ferguson (1896), Schenck v. United States (1919), Korematsu v. United States (1944), Gideon v. Wainwright (1963), Miranda v. Arizona (1966), Loving v. Virginia (1967), and Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission (2010). We encourage English Language Arts teachers to select from these texts for readings in this grade.

That looks like a reasonable enough list of cases to emphasize. As long as the course doesn’t insist that Dred Scott, Plessy, Korematsu were decided the right way, that Brown, Loving, Gideon and Miranda the wrong way then they’re a good grounding in how the U.S. has, at times, failed to be that shining beacon on the hill but has advanced closer to it over time.

What is actually being complained of here is not that these standards are wrong, or bad, but that they don’t accord with what Salon thinks they should be, Which, given that Salon is a resolutely progressive outlet might be part of the point. Salon is also ranked around 60 in the listings of media sites for law and government and gains some 9 million visits a month from that position.

That there should be education on social studies seems to us to be obvious enough. But this idea that there should be no alternative proposals as to what the standards for it should be seems most odd to us. Unless we assume that this is where the woke, the progressives, think they’ve already won and so are getting most upset at being newly challenged.


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