Textbook publisher Studies Weekly removed all mentions of race in a draft lesson of Rosa Parks’ story to comply with Florida’s state guidelines, according to The New York Times.
Parks is exalted as a civil rights icon because of her historic 1955 refusal to give up her seat to a white man and move to the back of the bus — a decision that helped spark the Montgomery Bus Boycott.
The current Studies Weekly lesson for first graders explains the links between race, segregation and Parks’ story. “The law said African Americans had to give up their seats on the bus if a white person wanted to sit down,” the study aid reportedly reads.
An initial rewrite — “created for the textbook review” — mentions race indirectly. It says, “She [Parks] was told to move to a different seat because of the color of her skin,” NYT reports. A second update allegedly included no mention of race, simply saying Parks “was told to move to a different seat.”
Studies Weekly Responds
Studies Weekly, a science and social studies textbook, is used in over 45,000 schools nationwide, according to the publisher’s website. The textbook alleges the amendments to its Florida curriculum were to adhere to the state’s Stop W.O.K.E. Act. The acronym in the title stands for “Wrongs to Our Kids and Employees.”
“All publishers are expected to design a curriculum that aligns with those requirements,” John McCurdy, the company’s chief executive, said in an email to NYT.
Florida governor Ron DeSantis signed the Stop W.O.K.E. Act into law in 2022. The legislature prohibits teaching in the state’s educational system that implies “a person’s status as either privileged or oppressed is necessarily determined by his or her race, color, national origin, or sex.”
Studies Weekly says it’s “grateful” the “unapproved” changes to its Florida curriculum were never finalized for classroom use.
“As a social studies publisher, it is our duty to follow the directives provided by each state department of education… Studies Weekly does not lean to the political left, right or middle… We find the omission or altering of historical facts to be abhorrent and do not defend it… As an entire company, we sincerely apologize for this situation and the distress that the adoption review submission caused.”
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