Uma Menon: Challenging Florida Gov. DeSantis over critical race theory ban
Uma Menon is a graduate of a public schools in Florida. In her recent guest post at Washington Post’s The Answer Sheet with Valerie Strauss, she reacts to the recent gag law keeping teachers from discussing Critical Race Theory and the 1619 Project.
On June 10, the Florida Board of Education voted to ban public schools from teaching students about critical race theory, an academic approach that evaluates institutions through the lens of racial justice and the aim of mitigating structural inequity. Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) has accused public education systems of divisiveness and indoctrination. But critical race theory is not an ideology; rather, it is an approach that teaches students to be critical and consider multiple historiographical perspectives.
This new ban marks another step taken by conservatives to politicize racial justice. The rhetoric supporting this rule is more than just divisive — it rejects historical accuracy and teaches children that human rights are debatable.
Before graduating in 2020, I studied history and other social sciences for many years in Florida public schools, but never once did I hear the phrase “critical race theory” in any of my classrooms. This makes sense, given that public school districts in Lake, Marion, Osceola, Seminole, and Orange counties have stated that critical race theory has never been a part of their curriculum.
For DeSantis and Florida Republicans, critical race theory has become a scapegoat: a buzzword singled out for attack when politicians want to hide their opposition to racial justice. DeSantis is doing exactly what he claims to oppose. He is misleading students, teachers, and schools about the facts of what critical race theory — an important academic concept — really is.