CLINTON, Iowa — Former Vice President Mike Pence said he would encourage Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis to “take another look” at controversial new state guidelines for how to teach about slavery in schools.
Teachers, civil rights leaders and others have criticized DeSantis for the curriculum, which now requires Florida teachers to instruct middle-school students that enslaved people “developed skills which, in some instances, could be applied for their personal benefit.”
“Slavery was evil and nothing good ever came from slavery,” Pence told reporters in Clinton Sunday evening. “But I have a hard time believing that Florida intended to say anything other than that in their education standards. And I’d encourage the governor to take another look at it.”
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DeSantis, who like Pence is seeking the Republican nomination for president, has received criticism from across the political spectrum over the curriculum.
Vice President Kamala Harris traveled to Florida last week to condemn the new educational standards.
And U.S. Sen Tim Scott, who is also seeking the Republican presidential nomination, criticized DeSantis over the standards, saying “there’s no silver lining to slavery.”
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DeSantis told a crowd of Iowa Republicans at the party’s annual Lincoln Dinner on Friday that “I’m not budging an inch.”
“We have beaten the left’s agenda in the state of Florida, so she thinks she can come down and lie about what we’re doing,” DeSantis said of Harris. “I’m not budging an inch. We are going to fight back against these people, and we are not letting them take over our schools any longer.”
DeSantis also said pushed back against his Republican critics, saying “D.C. Republicans all too often accept false narratives — accept lies that are perpetrated by the left.”
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Pence pointed out that the Republican Party is the party of Lincoln.
“We went through a bloody Civil War; 600,000 Americans fell to end the scourge of slavery in this country,” Pence said. “We still bear the scars in many ways in this country, but we’ve made incredible progress toward a more perfect union.”
Pence’s comments to reporters came after he spoke to a crowd of about 300 at the Clinton County GOP Hog Roast, the final stop on a three-day campaign swing through Iowa.
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Stephen Gruber-Miller covers the Iowa Statehouse and politics for the Register. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 515-284-8169. Follow him on Twitter at @sgrubermiller.
This article originally appeared on Des Moines Register: Mike Pence says Ron DeSantis should reconsider Florida slavery teaching