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School district cancels civil rights lecture by Flagler professor over concerns about critical race theory

A professor at Flagler College said his planned presentation before Osceola County teachers didn’t have any references to critical race theory.
Credit: DONGSEON - stock.adobe.com

OSCEOLA COUNTY, Fla. — School administrators in a central Florida county canceled a seminar for history teachers on the U.S. civil rights movement, in part, because it hadn’t been screened to make sure it was free of critical race theory. 

Michael Butler is a history professor at Flagler College. He claimed last week that his planned presentation before Osceola County teachers was canceled because the school district had a review committee that needed to examine whether or not training programs contained critical race theory. 

According to Butler, the committee did not have enough time to review the content of his presentation. However, he claimed it didn’t have any references to critical race theory.

Critical race theory is an academic approach to studying the systemic impact of racism, how it has influenced laws and public policy, and the impact it has on society today.

Critical race theory is not currently taught in Florida primary or secondary classrooms. In June 2021, the state's Department of Education passed an amended rule that set strict definitions for how history could be taught. While it didn't explicitly mention critical race theory, critics said it would effectively ban its concepts from public classrooms.

Recent conversations about banning critical race theory in classrooms across the country have drawn renewed attention to the topic in Florida.

Gov. Ron DeSantis has called the theory “crap" and is currently pushing a bill that supporters say will prevent discrimination in schools and workplaces; but critics argue it will give people leverage to sue employers and chill classroom discussions about race and gender. The bill does not specifically mention critical race theory. But, it does say individuals shouldn't have to feel "discomfort" or "guilt" on account of their race, color, sex or national origin.

In a statement, the Osceola School District said it had concerns with the number of educators participating in the presentation due to COVID. The school district also added that it needed more time to review the training materials "in light of the current conversations across our state and in our community about critical race theory."

"We remain committed to fully supporting the work of our educators to provide meaningful learning experiences about the facts and realities of the history of our country and our world using a guaranteed and viable curriculum," the school district said.

10 Tampa Bay's Andrew Quintana contributed to this report.


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