Florida has adopted new K-12 civic standards that Trumpist conservative Hillsdale College of Michigan helped write. Florida teachers attending workshops developed by Hillsdale for training in a civics curriculum related to the new standards are alarmed by Hillsdale’s attempted warping of history to promote its conservative agenda:
But St. Johns County teacher Justin Vogel said he was shocked at the presentations he saw during a conference last week in Jacksonville.
“It’s mind-blowing what they what they tried to convince us of, in some cases, some cases were worse than others,” Vogel said.
Teachers in South Florida voiced similar concerns, the Tampa Bay Times reported.
In one of the slides presented and shared with News4JAX, the DOE said it was a “misconception” that the Founding Fathers wanted a strict separation of church and state.
“The presenters said that it was because [Thomas] Jefferson when he said ‘wall of separation between church and state,’ he didn’t mean it,” Vogel said.
Vogel, who teaches academic research, said presenters also promoted the idea of “originalism” — the theory that the Constitution should be given the original meaning it had when it became law — by repeatedly using the phrase “through the founders’ eyes.”
“It became pretty clear pretty quickly that this was a euphemism for, you know, originalism, which in itself is, you know, a conservative viewpoint, which is fine, totally fine, but nothing else was presented,” he said. “People have those opinions, but it’s being presented as the ‘correct way.’”
Vogel said the presentation also downplayed slavery by noting that two-thirds of the Founding Fathers owned slaves but added, “even those that held slaves did not defend the institution.” Presenters also showed a slide that said less than 4% of slavery in the Western Hemisphere was in Colonial America, which Vogel interpreted to mean “everybody was doing it.”
“The other part of it is that the founders, quote, ‘did all they could,’ on the issue of slavery, that was what they were trying to convince us of,” he said [Travis Gibson, “Florida Teachers Raise Concerns About New Civics Training, Saying It Downplays Slavery, Promotes Originalism,” WJXT-TV Jascksonville, 2022.06.30].
But if South Dakota teachers respond similarly to the K-12 social studies standards that Hillsdale is writing for Governor Noem, Hillsdale president Larry Arnn will just dismiss them as dummies:
Hidden camera video obtained by News Channel 5 Investigates reveals a recent closed-door reception with Tennessee’s governor and a key education ally who repeatedly mocks the intelligence of public school teachers and questions whether they really care about what is best for their students.
…Among Arnn’s provocative remarks:
- “The teachers are trained in the dumbest parts of the dumbest colleges in the country.”
- “They are taught that they are going to go and do something to those kids… Do they ever talk about anything except what they are going to do to these kids?”
- “In colleges, what you hire now is administrators…. Now, because they are appointing all these diversity officers, what are their degrees in? Education. It’s easy. You don’t have to know anything.”
- “The philosophical understanding at the heart of modern education is enslavement…. They’re messing with people’s children, and they feel entitled to do anything to them.”
- “You will see how education destroys generations of people. It’s devastating. It’s like the plague.”
- “Here’s a key thing that we’re going to try to do. We are going to try to demonstrate that you don’t have to be an expert to educate a child because basically anybody can do it” [Phil Williams, “Teachers Come from ‘Dumbest Parts of Dumbest Colleges’, Tenn. Governor’s Education Advisor Tells Him,” WTVF-TV Nashville, 2022.06.30].
Arnn has since responded that by “dumbest” he didn’t really mean “dumbest” but most “ill-conceived” and most “misdirected”. That “clarification” does not change the main point: the leader of the Michigan college that governors in Florida, South Dakota, and Tennessee have engaged to help rewrite social studies education deeply disrespects and demonizes the public school teachers who will be called on to salvage honest and effective education from the politically biased standards and curriculum that Hillsdale’s Trumpists are trying to impose on our schools.