Parents took to social media to express their fury over a Florida permit that requires students to obtain parental consent before participating in the reading of a book by a Black author.
Tech entrepreneur Chuck Walter sparked passionate reactions for a photo of a Miami-Dade County Public Schools permission form he shared with X, formerly Twitter.
‘Did I have to give permission for this or would my son not participate???’ Walter wrote.
The form given to her daughter, a student at Coral Way K-8 Center in Miami, asked parents to give consent for their children to attend a “read aloud” event with a Black author.
“Students will participate and listen to a book written by an African American,” the document said.
While he noted that permission was required to “participate in any and all school-sponsored activities, events, or co-curricular programs,” parents were outraged.
Parents and netizens took issue with a permit that requires students to obtain permission before attending a reading by a black author.
Tech entrepreneur Chuck Walter expressed his frustration on social media after his daughter was handed the parental permission form at the Coral Way K-8 Center in Miami.
“This made my blood boil,” said another father who lives in Miami and who experienced similar circumstances.
‘This made my blood boil. My eighth grade son also brought home a permission slip for #BlackHistoryMonth where he made sure to write “Black history is American history,” said JennyLee Molina, a mom who lives in Miami. “This is beyond ridiculous.”
Other commenters noted the document’s seemingly awkward wording.
“Also, ‘by an African American’ is the strangest choice of phrasing that could be used here,” wrote one X user. ‘Why not use the name of the author/reader or the title of the book or give context on the topic from the book?’
Another commenter commented that the wording appeared to be a deliberate attempt to “stoke division.”
Some users took the opportunity to criticize Florida’s public education system in a broader context.
“Children don’t need permission to READ,” one woman commented. ‘No wonder literacy rates are at rock bottom. And it is a problem to have a book by a black author during Black History Month in 2024.”
However, others pointed out that the school was simply following procedure. “Don’t put too much effort into this,” one man wrote.
‘It is a standard activity form for a non-school activity. So would a visit to the local petting zoo.’
Coral Way K-8 Center is part of Miami-Dade County Public Schools and is required by state law to send home permission slips for any “education-related activities authorized by the school.”
Other commenters took issue with the wording of the permit, particularly the phrase “by an African American.”
One X user claimed that the phrase appeared to be a deliberate attempt to “stoke division”, and questioned why the author’s name was not used instead.
A spokesperson for the school district echoed this line of thinking.
“In compliance with state law, permission slips were sent home because the guest speakers would be participating during a school-sanctioned education-related activity,” the spokesperson wrote in a statement.
The state law in question was the Parental Rights in Education Act, which introduced broad restrictions on topics that could be discussed at certain grade levels, including sexual orientation and gender identity.
The legislation, known as House Bill 1557, “reinforces the fundamental rights of parents to make decisions regarding the raising of their children,” according to a 2022 statement from Gov. Ron DeSantis’ office.
State Education Commissioner Manny Díaz Jr. appeared to respond to the viral tweet.
“This is a hoax,” he wrote in X. “Florida does not require a permit to teach African American history or to celebrate Black History Month. Any school that does this is completely wrong.”
Other Internet users pointed out flaws in Florida’s public education system as a whole. “Children don’t need permission to READ,” one woman commented. “No wonder literacy rates are at rock bottom”
Florida Commissioner of Education Manny Díaz Jr. responded to the viral tweet by calling it a “hoax.”
Diaz Jr. stated that Florida “does not require a permit to celebrate Black History Month,” adding that any school that did so was “completely wrong.”
Florida’s public education system has come under fire after a series of bills were passed restricting the discussion of certain topics in classrooms.
The Parental Rights in Education Act, for example, came into effect in 2022, but an extension was signed last year.
Bans instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity from kindergarten through eighth grade and limits reproductive health education from sixth through 12th grade.
Discussions about reproductive health must also be age or developmentally appropriate “in accordance with state standards.”
The bill applies to both public and charter schools.
Equally controversial legislation is the Individual Freedom Act, commonly known as the Stop WOKE Act, which controls how race is taught in schools.
Under that law, students cannot be subjected to instruction that requires them to believe that “specific concepts constitute discrimination based on race, color, sex, or national origin.”
DeSantis praised the law in a 2021 press release, calling it “the strongest legislation of its kind in the country” that would “address both corporate wokeness and critical race theory.”