GOP lawmakers eager to limit discussions on race in Florida schools

The critical race theory. Photo courtesy:

Florida state Senate Bill 184 was introduced by Sen. Manny Diaz Jr., R-Miami, and Sen. Ray Wesley Rodrigues, R-Lee, and it has the support of Gov. DeSantis.

The bill aims to place restrictions on discussions involving race in Florida’s educational systems. For some this means in K-12 classrooms individuals may not feel responsible for wrongdoings that are a part of America’s history.

Within the section 760.10 (8) (a) there are guidelines, which explains what would be considered unlawful employment practices if this bill was to become law. “An individual, by virtue of his or her race, color, sex, or national origin, bears responsibility for, or should be discriminated against or receive adverse treatment because of, actions committed in the past by other members of the same race, color, sex, or national origin.”

Although the term “critical race theory” is not included in the bill, many Floridians have voiced concerns about the effect it could have on children and teens in their future education.

Preschool teacher Macie Clayton does not believe in limiting race discussions in the classroom, and she says the governor should not invest his time in public schools.

“Although I work in a preschool, I do believe that limiting race discussions in the classroom could prevent students from being made aware of the differences that can be suffered by those of minority cultures,” Clayton said. “I believe that the governor [DeSantis] should be more susceptible to the benefits of teaching critical race theory in the educational curriculum. Informing students about how historical events still influence how the government and other institutions operate today could cause them to feel more inclined to ensure that these incidents do not continue to happen.”

Also called the “Individual Freedom Bill,” it has prompted many to start having real conversations about education in America and, specifically, Florida. Some officials in the education system want to get to the root of critical race theory and what it means to them.

FAMU DRS Superintendent Michael Johnson spoke on what truly is critical race theory and what restricting certain discussions in the classroom can do for students’ futures.

“I think that any race should be afforded the opportunity to understand the celebration and struggles that they’ve had as a community,” Johnson said. “I’m just trying to get a discovery of someone to really define to me what critical race theory is. I think to be pro or against critical race theory is to be able to give me an understanding of what it is or isn’t.”

Critical race theory defined in simple terms delves into race and its impact on the shaping of American history.

This bill follows the Stop W.O.K.E Act presented in December of 2021 by Gov. DeSantis. It has cleared the Senate’s Education Committee and has a companion bill in the Florida House of Representatives.