Do Florida schools need to teach more black history?
Members of the civil rights group showed up at Bill McCollum's office this week, asking the Florida attorney general to force schools to teach more African-American history.
Lawmakers required the instruction back in 1994, the group noted. Yet a state Department of Education report shows that only 19 of 67 counties had students enrolled in black history classes in 2007-08, it added.
"We're here this morning to encourage our attorney general to follow the law," the Rev. William Foutz, president of the council, said at a news conference, according to the Tallahassee Democrat.
A handful of Leon civic leaders got in on the act, WCTV reports, and even Gov. Charlie Crist chimed in. "Well, we need to honor the law. We're a nation of laws," Crist told the Democrat after meeting briefly with the group.
But does the law actually require schools to offer semester or yearlong courses in black history, as the Inter-Civic Council suggests? Not exactly.
Florida statute 1003.42 ("Required instruction") offers a long list of content that schools must offer to students. It includes not only "The history of African Americans," but also:
- The study of Hispanic contributions to the United States;
- The study of women's contributions to the United States;
- The history of the Holocaust;
- Flag education;
- The elementary principles of agriculture;
- The true effects of all alcoholic and intoxicating liquors and beverages and narcotics upon the human body and mind, and
- Kindness to animals.
FDOE spokesman Tom Butler told WCTV that the state is confident that schools are teaching these subjects. But can you imagine if schools were required to have credit-bearing classes on all these? Educators already complain the school day isn't long enough. Just a thought to ponder during Black History Month.