A textbook publisher eliminated all references to race from a draft lesson about civil rights icon Rosa Parks because of their interpretation of Florida’s Stop WOKE Act, The New York Times reported.
Studies Weekly, a science and social studies-focused book publisher used in 45,000 Florida schools, created one version of its lesson on Parks for first graders for the state’s review of the social studies curriculum.
According to the Times, this version regarding Parks — who helped spark the Montgomery Bus Boycott by refusing to give up her seat on an Alabama bus to a white man in 1955 — does not explicitly mention her race. Instead, the publisher writes that she was told to move “because of the color of her skin.”
In the second version of the lesson, the mention of race is removed completely. “She was told to move to a different seat. She did not. She did what she believed was right,” the textbook passage read, according to the Times.
Another example from the same publisher, provided by the Times, shows a fourth-grade lesson about the Civil War, which removed language saying Black people were discriminated against under “Black codes,” a series of laws created after the Civil War to restrict freedoms of Black people, instead opting for language like “certain groups.”
The Times reports that Florida classrooms are currently using lessons that mention segregation and references to race. It was unclear whether these versions without references to race were submitted for review. The publisher said that it had withdrawn from the state’s review.
Studies Weekly CEO John McCurdy told the Times the changes were made to comply with the Stop WOKE Act, a law that limits race and gender discussion at schools and at work.
Although Florida’s Department of Education mandates the teaching of Black history, critical race theory is banned in Florida public schools. However, it’s important to note that graduate-level academic theory is rarely taught at the elementary or even high school level.
“It would be impossible to teach about the significance of Rosa Parks without discussing her race,” The Florida Department of Education said in a statement to Business Insider “Any publisher who attempts to avoid the topic of race when discussing Rosa Parks or topics such as the Civil Rights Movement, slavery, segregation, etc. would not be adhering to Florida law.”
Following the publication of the Times story, the publisher of Studies Weekly issued a press statement stating that Florida provided no guidance on how they should interpret the laws but that “individuals on our curriculum team severely overreacted in their interpretation of HB 7 and made unapproved revisions.”