When the far-right DeSantis-appointed goons at the Florida Department of Education issued guidance to whitewash black history earlier this week, Vice President Kamala Harris said she’d visit the state to call them out. She showed up yesterday. (NPR)
Vice President Harris delivered an impassioned speech on Friday condemning Florida for its new framework for how Black history will be taught in K-12 schools, including guidelines that slavery was beneficial to enslaved people.
“It is not only misleading, it is false and pushing propaganda,” she said Friday in Jacksonville, Fla. “Pushing propaganda on our children.”
Harris also criticized Florida’s new standards for requiring high schools to teach that African Americans were perpetrators in some racially motivated massacres. She described these lessons as efforts by “extremists” to replace “history with lies.”
We discussed the crappy new social studies standards in a post yesterday, and someone in comments asked where are the Floridians who oppose this right-wing attack on public education. One of them is a school board member who introduced VP Harris in Jacksonville yesterday:
One of the 14 local school board members who Gov. Ron DeSantis has targeted for removal in next year’s election is Jennifer Jenkins, a 36-year-old elementary school speech pathologist who achieved a miracle in 2020 by defeating a far-right incumbent in a deep red Florida county by nine points.
Jenkins is also a mom and she was at her Brevard County home on Friday morning with her seven-year-old daughter Olive, who was having a playdate with a best buddy. Jenkins then got a call that necessitated a sudden change in plans.
“I told [Olive] I was going to meet the vice president,” Jenkins told The Daily Beast. “She thought I was joking and she laughed at me. And then she said, ‘Will you be home before bedtime?’”
The far-right incumbent Jenkins defeated for the school board seat is Tina Descovich, a Repub operative who then co-founded the right-wing Moms for Liberty group, along with another defeated far-right school board candidate and the wife of the FL GOP chairman. They claim to be nonpartisan, but that’s a lie.
Group members and their associates chanted and brandished guns at Jenkins’ residence. They called in phony child abuse allegations against her, subjecting her child to a physical examination by a state official. The Southern Poverty Law Center tagged them as extremists for good reason.
Randy Fine,* a Florida state senator who represents the area where Jenkins lives and serves as the local attack dog for DeSantis, publicly called Jenkins a whore several times. People who oppose DeSantis and his political apparatus face very real personal consequences. I wonder sometimes if folks outside the state comprehend the Stasi-like network of intimidation and oppression the FL GOP has cultivated here.
Anyhoo, Jenkins was on her way to Jacksonville to meet VP Harris when someone from the advance team called and asked if she would introduce Harris. Jenkins said she was “terrified” but felt energized “to be in a space where like-minded people are together and supportive and willing to fight alongside of you.” Here’s how Jenkins introduced Harris:
“I would say to our visitors today, welcome, welcome to Florida. But one thing our Republican leadership has made very clear is that Florida isn’t welcoming at all. And I can tell you as a Democratic school board member on the front lines of this educational war, it’s not welcoming to our students, our teachers, and our parents either…”
“They may want to make us relive the darkest parts of that history,” she said. “But today we get to witness history as our vice president gets to school the Florida Department of Education.”
She paused for an exultant instant.
“And I am so here for it,” she said. “So, it is my absolute honor to introduce the vice President of the United States of America.”
Jenkins has the courage to oppose these clowns. In deep red Hernando County, parents and teachers showed up to oppose another Moms for Liberty bully who was wrecking their schools. It won’t be easy, and it most likely won’t get a lot of news coverage when it happens, but Floridians can take our state back from these fascist pricks, one county at a time. We’ve just got to show up.
If you’re interested in showing up, whether you’re a Florida resident or not, stay tuned. In a future post, I’ll link to a list the 14 school board candidates DeSantis and Moms for Liberty are targeting in 2024 and provide information on where people can donate if they want to. I’ll also look into how folks can help via volunteer work like phone banking or writing postcards.
*Ron DeSantis and Christopher Rufo are trying to force Florida Atlantic University into accepting Randy Fine as the college president — yep, the same wholly unqualified, dimwit fascist clown who enjoys calling women whores. The university search committee resisted, submitting the names of three qualified people as finalists instead. Then state called off the search, so there’s currently a standoff.