New Petition Against Florida’s Definition of History

Florida’s A++ Plan, an educational directive passed by the Florida state legislature in 2006, mandates that “American history shall be viewed as factual, not as constructed, shall be viewed as knowable, teachable, and testable, and shall be defined as the creation of a new nation based largely on the universal principles stated in the Declaration of Independence”. An electronic petition drive is underway to amend the mandate.

This new petition, which can be accessed at www.teachingfloridahistory.org, substitutes the above mandate with the following: “History uses facts, evidence and critical thinking skills to analyze, evaluate and interpret the past. It is through critical analysis and familiarity of historical interpretations and debates that students will receive a more complete understanding of the American nation and its people.”

This petition highlights the stir the language in the Florida bill has caused in the history community. In fact, in January 2007, the Council of the AHA passed a resolution opposing the bill as it is currently written, saying

The practice of history has changed in the last four hundred years. But professional historians still recognize that no account of the past is ever perfect or complete, any more than any given scientific hypothesis… It is right to teach students that every historian must work as accurately and honestly as he or she can. But it is simply wrong to tell them that any single account of history is simply “factual.”

To sign the petition, go to www.teachingfloridahistory.org and complete the “Create New Account” information to be added to the list of supporters.

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