DeSantis’s Efforts to Make Education in Florida Less ‘Woke’

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  • ‘The Carnage Must Be Stopped’
  • Trump, Still Formidable
  • The Danger of Anti-Boycott Bills
  • Living Without Plastic

Credit…Marta Lavandier/Associated Press

To the Editor:

Re “Under Pressure, Board Revises A.P. African American Course” (front page, Feb. 2):

It is, of course, sadly ironic that your article about the stripped-down African American course curriculum ran online on the first day of Black History Month.

Either Gov. Ron DeSantis genuinely believes that critical thinking, a foundational understanding of how the United States came to be, and the reading of books that deepen kids’ sympathy for other kids will actually mess kids up, or he’s just pandering to the masses.

Whether the governor likes it or not, our country’s history, like that of all empires, isn’t wholly pretty. Is it upsetting to learn that the land you live on was taken brutally from its original occupants and that the house you live in was bought with a loan that was denied to another person because of the color of his skin? I would hope so.

But the purpose of teaching kids their country’s history isn’t to make them feel bad about themselves personally. If a kid, any kid, comes away from a classroom feeling lousy about themselves, that’s just poor teaching. They should, though, understand that not everyone has had those advantages, be grateful for their good fortune and work to make sure everyone else’s path is equally opportune.

Teachers have a tough enough time helping children become empathetic and engaged citizens with the skills and knowledge necessary to thrive in the global community without becoming shuttlecocks in a soulless game of political and cultural badminton.

Kevin Barr
Bethesda, Md.
The writer was an English teacher and administrator for over 40 years at Georgetown Day School in Washington.

To the Editor:

I’m a current high school junior who has taken a number of Advanced Placement courses. The College Board is absolutely spineless for bending to demands from the likes of Gov. Ron DeSantis. As much as he — or anyone else for that matter — might not like the Black Lives Matter movement, there is no way to neglect it in a course that studies the contemporary history and culture of African American people.

And, of course, being presented with information doesn’t mean that it will be “indoctrination.”

The blatant erasure of Black, queer and feminist scholars from the course is egregious. Nobody deserves to have their experience or perspective left out.

At the center of this debate is the student’s right to learn, and I believe that the student’s right to learn trumps all. History isn’t meant to be watered down.

Charles Yale

To the Editor:

Gov. Ron DeSantis revealed one of the reasons for his rejection of the A.P. Black history course. “This course on Black history,” he said during a press conference. “What’s one of the lessons about? Queer theory. Now, who would say that an important part of Black history is queer theory?”

Who would say that? How about the lesbian poet Audre Lorde? The author James Baldwin? The trans activist Marsha P. Johnson? Barbara Jordan, Bayard Rustin, Alvin Ailey and countless others?

These layers of disenfranchisement have a detrimental effect on health equity, justice and more.

Donna L. Tapellini
Lambertville, N.J.

‘The Carnage Must Be Stopped’

Credit…Pool photo by Andrew Nelles

To the Editor:

As a Black man and a retired police officer, I have been crying quite a bit lately. Crying from a deep sense of outrage, grief, shame and fear.

Outrage, because yet another unarmed Black man has been brutally killed by police officers. In communities of color throughout the United States, police use of deadly force and acts of misconduct and abuse have seemingly grown to epidemic proportions. People of color may now feel victimized by the very people who are supposed to protect them, worrying that they will become one of the ever-growing statistics.

Grief, because of the pain that I know Tyre Nichols’s family and friends must now be going through.

Shame, because the officers who killed Tyre looked exactly like me. They swore the same oaths that I did to protect and serve the community. They debased and dishonored the badge that they carried.

But most of all, fear, because I worry that my grandsons, great-grandsons and sons-in-law may one day become victims of this insanity. I can only pray that they will remember the things I have taught them about how to survive a police encounter, and that they are able to live to fight another day.

I know in my heart that Tyre Nichols will not be the last death of a Black man at the hands of police this year.

There must be change. There must be accountability. The carnage must be stopped.

Charles P. Wilson
Beltsville, Md.
The writer is webmaster and immediate past chairman of the National Association of Black Law Enforcement Officers.

Trump, Still Formidable

Credit…Eva Marie Uzcategui/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

To the Editor:

Re “Trump in ’24? G.O.P. Leaders Aren’t So Sure” (front page, Jan. 27):

Lately there have been many reports of Donald Trump’s imminent political demise, but despite the predictions he remains a dangerous opponent and a formidable campaigner.

His power has always come not from politicians but from ordinary people who see him as a bigger, more successful version of themselves. However inarticulate he sounds to the rest of us, the message his base hears is always clear.

Many of his handpicked candidates lost in 2022 because of their own failings; his appeal to the MAGA base appears undimmed.

He is a fighter, with the constitution and mentality of an alligator, striking back ferociously when attacked. He has no regard for the truth, but he has realized that millions of voters don’t either.

Certainly none of the sorry bunch of Republicans mentioned in your article have anything like his power on the campaign trail.

Tim Shaw
Cambridge, Mass.

The Danger of Anti-Boycott Bills

Credit…Robert Neubecker

To the Editor:

Re “Politicians Push Back on Having E.S.G. Funds,” by Ron Lieber (“Your Money,” Jan. 30):

The fight between red states and the asset manager BlackRock is a symptom of a much larger danger facing American democracy today: the attempt by state legislators to take away the right to boycott as a tool for social and political change.

The first anti-boycott bill introduced in 2015 to punish Americans boycotting Israel has since been passed in 28 other states. Starting in 2021, Republicans used it as a template to punish companies engaged in environmental, social and governance investing in several states, leading to the current face-off with BlackRock in Texas.

Bills introduced earlier this year in South Carolina, Iowa and Missouri follow the same template as the original anti-boycott law punishing boycotts of Israel, but expand the target to punish state contractors that may be engaged in boycotts of companies that do not offer reproductive health care or gender-affirming care and companies that do not meet workplace diversity criteria.

From civil rights leaders to farm workers and anti-apartheid activists, Americans have relied on boycotts throughout the country’s history. We are currently at a crossroads where such a crucial tool may no longer be available for future generations.

Julia Bacha
New York
The writer is a filmmaker and director of “Boycott.”

Living Without Plastic

Must avoid: All of these items, which are part of the reporter’s everyday life, contain plastic.Credit…Photographs by Jonah Rosenberg for The New York Times

To the Editor:

Re “Plastic Surgery: No Phone, No Credit Cards, No Bed” (Sunday Styles, Jan. 15):

I enjoyed reading your report about living without plastic for 24 hours after taking out my home-delivered Times from its plastic wrapper.

David Elsila
Grosse Pointe Park, Mich.

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