‘Parents’ Bill of Rights’ unfairly forces Florida schools to erase Black history

Two schools in Miami have adopted a new practice in which students must have signed permission slips to participate in activities related to Black History Month. iPrep Academy and Coral Way K-8 adopted this measure to remain in accordance with the “Parents’ Bill of Rights” signed by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis in 2022.

Chuck Walter, a concerned parent, tweeted one of these permission slips on X after his daughter returned home with it. It was requesting his signature of approval that his daughter could listen in on the reading of a book “written by an African American.” There was no other information denoting what the book was called or what the content included, just merely that it was written by a Black author.

Another parent, Jill Peeling, thought she misunderstood what the new procedure being implemented was until she saw it herself. 

However, Florida’s Department of Education denies any claims that students need permission to study African American history. DeSantis himself called these measures “absurd” and told the principals of these institutions to “knock it off, stop with the nonsense.”

The Parents Bill of Rights states that parents have the right to know what is happening in their child’s classroom and make decisions about their child’s education. Photo courtesy of Fauxels, Pexels

It is understandable why schools have taken such measures to protect themselves from going against the “Parents’ Bill of Rights.” If one were to look at the language of the bill’s summary, one could see how the vague wording could worry school administrators.

The bill apparently “requires a school district to promote parental involvement in the public school system by providing access to the child’s studies and instructional materials while recognizing a parent’s right to withdraw the child from objectionable portions of the school’s curriculum.” 

With Florida’s recent history of censorship and book banning, this kind of explanation of parental rights could give someone the idea of finding permission slips necessary, especially since most of the censorship and book banning taking place targets books by Black authors.

Some books that have been banned since November 2023 include Toni Morrison’s “Beloved,” “The Bluest Eye” and “Sula,” as well as “Invisible Man” by Ralph Ellison and “Their Eyes Were Watching God” by Zora Neale Hurston. There are plenty more on the list, but these books are considered classic pieces of Black literature and share stories that could educate future generations. 

In addition to this, about a month ago, the Escambia County Public School District pulled five dictionaries and eight encyclopedias from libraries to ensure they follow Florida’s sexual education law. I highly doubt any children are going to find pornography in their dictionaries, but Florida seems to think they just might.

It is absurd how much pressure is placed on the schools as they race to make sure they are not breaking the law. The primary focus of schooling is not supposed to be the comfort of the parents. It is supposed to be the education of the students and forming them into well-rounded individuals who can stand tall in society.

If we are to adopt measures such as these and actively erase Black history, then we are showing them that this history is not as meaningful, and thus failing them as educators.




Featured photo courtesy of Gage Skidmore, Flickr