Vice President Kamala Harris traveled to the home state of Ron DeSantis on Friday to boost his national profile with a radical campaign aimed at children with Florida’s new education policy.
Harris, in a fiery speech in Jacksonville, Fla., railed against the state’s new school curriculum that allowed students to be taught that slavery gave black people ‘skills’ that could be ‘used for their personal advantage.’
‘Are you kidding me?’ Harris, the nation’s first black vice president, talked about policy.
“Those who go around and want to be hailed as leaders, want to talk as American leaders, spread propaganda on our children,” he said.
Vice President Kamala Harris said, ‘People who go around and want to be hailed as leaders, want to talk about being American leaders, spread propaganda on our children.’
Although he did not mention DeSantis by name, Harris repeatedly attacked “extremists, so-called leaders” for new education policies, book bans, and the so-called Don’t Say Gay Act — all of which were DeSantis policies.
For his part, DeSantis, who is vying for the Republican nomination for president, prefaced his speech with an attack of his own, accusing Harris and President Joe Biden of lying about his policies and taking personal hits at the president, saying that if Biden’s seventh granddaughter lived in his state, he would probably meet her.
Florida’s new education policy drew widespread criticism from civil rights advocates. The change comes as part of DeSantis’ ‘War on Walk’, which he has used to boost his national profile and make a major platform of his presidential campaign.
Harris used it to attack the governor.
“When I think about what’s going on here in Florida, I’m deeply concerned because, let’s be clear, I believe this is not just about the state of Florida, there’s a national agenda,” he said.
He also said, ‘As parents we teach our children to tell the truth.’
‘Well, I think we should model what we say,’ he added. ‘These extreme so-called leaders should model what we know to be the right and proper approach, if we are truly invested in the well-being of our children. Instead they dare to spread propaganda to our children. This is the United States, we’re not supposed to do this,’ he said.
DeSantis and his wife, Cassie, have three young children. They often talk about them and bring them on the campaign trail.
Harris also condemned the state for rewriting the history of slavery.
‘Adults know what slavery really involves. It involves rape. It involves torture,’ she said.
‘It involves taking babies from their mothers. It involves some of the worst examples of dehumanization in our world. So in that context, how can anyone suggest in this atrocity that there was any benefit to being subjected to this level of inhumanity,’ he added.
‘Let’s reject the idea that we will deny them in terms of our history. We’d better remember. Remembering makes us stronger. We fought a war to end the sin of slavery, a civil war, to end slavery.’
And he sympathized with teachers, many of whom objected to the new policy.
‘Our teachers who fear that they may lose their jobs if they teach the truth. Because we don’t pay them enough,’ he said to great applause.
Ron DeSantis attacked Joe Biden and Kamala Harris for focusing on his policies in Florida
Harris also accused DeSantis of using the issue to try to divide the country.
‘We should not be distracted by what they are trying to do, creating unnecessary controversies to divide our country. Let’s not fall into that trap,’ he said.
DeSantis, for his part, accused Harris of lying.
He wrote on Twitter before his speech: ‘Democrats like Kamala Harris should lie about Florida’s educational standards to cover their agenda of seducing students and forcing sex on children. Florida stands in their way and we will continue to expose their agenda and their lies.’
DeSantis then criticized President Biden for not acknowledging son Hunter Biden’s four-year-old daughter in Arkansas, whom he had with his former personal assistant Lunden Roberts. The president has repeatedly said he has six grandchildren instead of seven.
‘The Harris-Biden administration is obsessed with Florida…yet they ignore border chaos, crime-ridden cities, economic malaise and a military recruiting crisis. Maybe he would actually visit Biden’s granddaughter when she moved to Florida,’ he wrote.
It was the second day in a row that Vice President DeSantis and Florida attacked the new policy.
He also spoke at the national convention of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc. in Indianapolis on Thursday, where he accused DeSantis of trying to ‘gaslight’ the country.
‘Speaking of our children, extremists ban books to prevent them from learning our true history – ban books in this year of our Lord 2023. And when they do that, check it out, they advance revisionist history,’ Harris said. ‘Just yesterday in the state of Florida, they decided that middle school students would be taught that people benefited from slavery through slavery. They insult us by trying to gaslight us, and we won’t stand for it.’
The White House has been careful not to engage publicly with any GOP presidential contender or respond to their attacks, citing the Hatch Act, a federal law that prohibits federal officials from engaging in political activity while serving in their official capacity.
But Harris started hitting back.
He has already led an attack on Republican-led states that have essentially made it impossible for women to get abortions. He also served as the administration’s spokesperson on issues related to gun violence and voting rights.
The Florida school curriculum changes were required by a 2022 law known as the ‘Stop Wrongs to Our Kids and Employees Act’ or the ‘Stop Walk Act’.
It was DeSantis who unveiled the Stop Way Act, which would have allowed parents to file lawsuits against school districts accused of teaching critical race theory.
In part of the law, that directive includes ‘celebrating the significant contributions of African Americans to shaping and strengthening American society and the inspiring stories of African Americans who have thrived, even in the most difficult circumstances.’
The governor also approved a law that prohibits instruction in schools that suggests someone is privileged or oppressed based on their race or skin color.
The Florida Board of Education approved new rules for teaching black history during a public meeting in Orlando on Wednesday.
A 216-page document posted on the Florida Department of Education website includes new instructions for middle school teachers, including how to teach students ‘how slaves develop skills, which in some cases can be applied to their personal advantage’.
Alex Lanfranconi, who serves as a spokesman for Education Commissioner Manny Diaz, tweeted a statement Thursday afternoon from those who worked on the new standards.
“Any attempt to victimize slaves during a difficult time in American history fails to recognize their strength, courage, and resilience,” the statement said.
‘Florida students deserve to learn how slaves took advantage of whatever circumstances they were in to benefit themselves and communities of African descent.’
Vice President Kamala Harris on Thursday attacked Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis for ‘gaslighting’ the state’s new school curriculum.
Ron DeSantis criticized President Joe Biden for not acknowledging his seventh grandson
Hunter’s daughter, Navy Joan, poses with her mother, Lunden Roberts
The images above, taken from the wider publication, show the curriculum changes that are called for
Many teachers objected to the new rules and asked for the proposals to be shelved.
Science teacher Carol Cleaver told those attending the meeting: ‘These new standards represent only half the story and half the truth.
‘When we name political figures who worked to end slavery, but leave out anyone who worked to keep slavery legally nameless – the children themselves are forced to fill in the blanks.’
The Florida Education Association, a statewide teachers union that represents about 150,000 teachers, described the new rules as ‘a step backwards.’
A statement issued by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) called the curriculum ‘sanitized and dishonest’.
Their president and CEO Derrick Johnson said: ‘Today’s action by Florida state government is an attempt to return our country to 19th century America where black lives were not valued, and our rights were not protected.
‘It is imperative that we understand that the horrors of slavery and Jim Crow were human rights abuses and represent the darkest period in American history. We refuse to go back.
‘The NAACP has been fighting corrupt actors within the DeSantis administration for more than a century, and we stand ready to continue that fight by any means necessary.
‘Our children deserve nothing less than the blood, sweat and tears our forefathers shed for truth, justice and righteousness.
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