Duval County Public Schools teachers speak out against the state’s civics training courses

“Whitewashing” and “downplaying slavery” are how some Duval County Public Schools teachers describe the Florida Department of Education’s civics courses, a series of conferences being offered to teachers over the summer.

“The thing that bothered me was, ‘Washington and Jefferson did all they could do to end slavery.’ And that’s simply not true. They could’ve pulled the trigger on the Civil War early,” one teacher who asked to remain anonymous said. “They approached it from an apologetics way.”

The teacher claims presenters also discounted the idea that the Constitution is a living, breathing document.

“That’s what this felt like, by the way, is indoctrination,” he added.

Gov. DeSantis touched on civic literacy in a news conference Thursday.

“We just got the civic literacy exam results for this past school year and we’ve seen an improvement by 5%. So we’re now at almost 70% are passing our civics exam. Now, that’s not nearly good enough, but that is much better than I would say most people would expect and certainly much better than probably what you get in most parts of the country.”

Calling it “professional learning”, the DOE’s website says the training is part of the Civics Literacy Excellence Initiative, which DeSantis approved over $100 million for last July.

The DOE says the funding will award teachers who get the Florida Civics Seal of Excellence, including a $3,000 stipend for educators who complete training to earn the endorsement.

For teachers like Elwood Thompson, it’s not worth it.

“I’ve been listening to what the governor’s put out: the Stop Woke Act,” he said.

Thompson chose not to go to the conference.

“Anyone who doesn’t want to teach history as it is, as it’s been, is trying to whitewash,” he said. “When you whitewash history, you don’t grow. You ignore facts. You don’t work with people. You segregate.”

Action News Jax reached out to the DOE twice Thursday. We are currently waiting to hear back.

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