Teach the Florida first graders well!


The stupidification, it burns: Let the word go forth to the nations:

The word "woke" appeared on the front page of Friday's New York Times! Indeed, the key if deeply baffling term appeared in the second paragraph of a front-page report by Sarah Mervosh, a good and decent person.

Online, the lengthy report carries a somewhat opaque headline. In print editions, the lengthy report began as shown, print headline included:

Florida Re-Edits A New Subject: Social Studies

The nitty-gritty process of reviewing and approving school textbooks has typically been an administrative affair, drawing the attention of education experts, publishing executives and state bureaucrats.

But in Florida, textbooks have become hot politics, part of Gov. Ron DeSantis’s campaign against what he describes as “woke indoctrination” in public schools, particularly when it comes to race and gender. Last year, his administration made a splash when it rejected dozens of math textbooks, citing “prohibited topics.”

Now, the state is reviewing curriculum in what is perhaps the most contentious subject in education: social studies.

Just to be clear, there is no claim in the Mervosh report that Florida has "re-edited" anything at this point. 

We're not even sure what that headline might mean. But such is the way of our mainstream journalism at its brainiest end.

At any rate, Mervosh's report continued from there. The word "woke" was right there in paragraph 2, admittedly as part of a quotation from Governor Lack of Precision.

The Mervosh report triggered loads of excitement within our own blue circles. At issue was the way one (1) textbook publisher, Studies Weekly, had proposed teaching the story of Rosa Parks to Florida's several first graders.

In a new version of a pre-existing textbook, Studies Weekly had dumbed down its account of what happened to Mrs. Parks on a very famous bus in 1955. More specifically, it had essentially removed the fact that she had been ordered to move from her seat that day so that a "white" person could sit in the seat instead.

The fact that one publisher had made this revision produced a barrel of excitement within our own blue circles. Frequently lost in the excitement was this buzzkill of a fact:

The Florida Department of Education has rejected the Studies Weekly textbook series for use in the state's public schools. The dumbed-down version of what happened to Mrs. Parks will not be approved for statewide use.

That's right! The Studies Weekly textbooks are out, along with the dumbed-down version of the Rosa Parks story. If you read all the way to the end of Mervosh's extremely lengthy report, you read this somewhat inconclusive account of the matter:

MERVOSH: The Florida Department of Education suggested that Studies Weekly had overreached. Any publisher that “avoids the topic of race when teaching the Civil Rights movement, slavery, segregation, etc. would not be adhering to Florida law,” the department said in a statement.

But Studies Weekly said it was trying to follow Florida’s standards, including the Stop W.O.K.E. Act.

“All publishers are expected to design a curriculum that aligns with” those requirements, John McCurdy, the company’s chief executive, said in an email.

The company’s curriculum is no longer under consideration by the state.

After questions from The Times, the company removed its second, scrubbed-down version of the curriculum from its website last week and said that it had withdrawn from the state’s review.

The Florida Department of Education said it had already rejected the publisher, citing a bureaucratic snafu in the company’s submission.

By our count, those are paragraphs 40-45 of a 46-graf report.

At any rate, the Studies Weekly textbooks are out, possibly due to an unspecified "bureaucratic snafu." But along the way, the Florida Department of Education has now said that Studies Weekly had "overreached" in some of its textbook revisions. 

Under Florida law, the Department has said, you can't dumb down the topic of race in such ways, not even for first graders! And yes, the Florida laws in question include the childishly named Stop W.O.K.E. Act, whose varied and voluminous provisions require the teaching of "the civil rights movement to the present," along with "the history of African Americans, including the history of African peoples before the political conflicts that led to the development of slavery, the passage to America, the enslavement experience, abolition, and the contributions of African Americans to society."

So it says within the (very murky) Stop W.O.K.E Act. 

Meanwhile, how should first graders be taught about Rosa Parks? Intelligent people would understand that that is a very good question—a question which has no single perfect answer.

Intelligent people might be eager to tackle such a significant question. Unfortunately, within our profit-based corporate circles, our tribe features the kinds of people who loomed on cable last night.

We refer to cable star Alex Wagner and the person with whom she pretended to discuss this topic. That would be Florida State Rep. Anna Eskamani, a good and decent person who may perhaps be a bit inclined to walks on the polarized side. 

The pair staged a deeply unintelligent pseudo-discussion. Eventually, Eskamani offered this description of the kinds of people who may not agree with her own infallible views on all such points of concern:

WAGNER (3/17/23): ...These folks, the Florida Citizens Alliance, seem to have an outsized role in determining what children can learn. Is there a counter movement on the progressive side that is working to push back? 

ESKAMANI: Well first of all, this is a very good point.

Govenor Ron DeSantis has surrounded himself with extremists, whether it's this organization, or Moms For Liberty, or think tanks from other states that come to Florida. He has surrounded himself with some of the worst characters and people who do not have the best interests of every child in mind.

But to answer your question...

According to experts, this is the way it's always been, dating back into prehistory.

In the present situation, leave it to hacks like ours! Before she could speak to the "very good point" Wagner had inevitably raised, Eskamani let it be known that people who don't share her own infallible views are "some of the worst characters," apparently on the whole planet.

They're people who do not have "the best interests of every child in mind," in the way she herself quite infallibly does.

If we wanted to be judgmental, it would be hard to have sufficient contempt for people who propagandize us in this ancient, stupid manner. But this is the way "blue corporate cable" panders to our own atavistic impulses as it seeks to maximize ratings and its bottom line.

Meanwhile, how about it? What should first graders be taught about our nation's brutal racial history?  Let's check in with Goofus and Gallant! 

Gallant understands that that's an excellent question. Goofus expounds on blue tribe cable every night of the week.

A giant cable star like Wagner could spend some time every night wrestling with the many questions involved in this important matter. That would start with the actual contents of Florida's Stop WOKE Act, for which we've never been able to find a clean text online.

What does the Stop WOKE Act even say? People like Wagner don't care! Neither do mainstream journalists, based on their tolerance of the current state of affairs.

(Without offering a link to any version of the law's text, Mervosh makes a few attempts to quote from its contents. For what it's worth, this is the cleanest version of the legislation we've been able to find online. It comes to us, live and direct, from Florida's Governor Harvard Law Hodgepodge.)

People like Wagner are never going to try to tell you what the act even says. Whether they know it or not, they are being sent on the air to dumbnify the national discourse and to stupidify our self-impressed tribe all the way down to the ground.

How much are they paid it pursue these noble tasks? You aren't allowed to know that! Also, the corporate bosses no longer provide transcripts of the things they say. It isn't just the Stop WOKE Act whose contents get lost in the mist!

In closing, what should first graders be taught about such moral giants as Mrs. Parks? 

You're asking a truly excellent question! Please keep such concerns to yourself!

The dumbnification, it burns: To watch last evening's ten-minute segment, you can just click here.

According to the New York Times, a dumbed-down version of the Rosa Parks story will not be approved for statewide use. The TV segment opens with this more pleasing chyron:


The Times report reports no such thing. The tribal dumbnification is constant, just as it ever was.


  1. What’s woke?



  2. Jeez, dear Bob. Shouldn't you already stop scratching your "wokeness" itch, dear? It's embarrassing.

    ...any news from the future anthropologists living in caves inside your head about Joe Ten Percent's Big War (formerly known as Mr Trump's Big War)? Please share. Caring is sharing, dear (or is it the opposite?)...

  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

  4. “Meanwhile, how should first graders be taught about Rosa Parks? Intelligent people would understand that that is a very good question—a question which has no single perfect answer.”

    How difficult is it really though? That she was told to move because of the color of her skin … It’s as simple as that. Or does Somerby imagine alternatives? First graders can understand the issue and the unfairness. It might make the white kids uncomfortable, though. It seems pretty clear why textbook writers might be a bit on edge.

  5. Bob Somerby, a good decent person, has the best interests of every child in mind.

    1. The woods are lovely, dark and deep.

  6. Is an account of the Rosa Parks story that
    removes the fact that She was asked to
    move because the accepted practice that
    a black person must give up there seat to
    a white person merely “dumbed down?”
    Would this text actually have been rejected
    had its sponsors not been sufficiently
    embarrassed? Had it been accepted
    can we actually imagined Bob would
    have found it objectionable?

  7. “The dumbed-down version of what happened to Mrs. Parks will not be approved for statewide use.”

    The Stop WOKE Act is “very murky”…yet apparently oh so clear in its requirements. Or so says Somerby.

    Let’s let that sink in, and then wonder how Somerby can be so certain what version of the Rosa Parks story Florida will actually approve, since we don’t yet know. After all, according to Somerby, there’s no “single perfect answer” as to how to teach the story. That gives Somerby and Florida what’s called “wiggle room.”

  8. Racism in FL is the problem, not Alex Wagner.

  9. It's clear the woke media are terrified of the very popular Republican governor of Florida. But is "the stupid party" smart enough to nominate him?

    1. You mean Ron DeSanctimonious? (Copyright 2023 Donald j Trump)

    2. Meatball Ron.

  10. Wait a minute, you mean to tell me that the "Stop W.O.K.E. Act" requires teaching "the civil rights movement to the present," along with "the history of African Americans, including the history of African peoples before the political conflicts that led to the development of slavery, the passage to America, the enslavement experience, abolition, and the contributions of African Americans to society?"

    That's a stunning fact that directly contradicts the Left's racial jihad against the DeSantis administration. That fact should have been front and center in the Times article.

    1. It sure does. All you really need is proof. Oops, I mean, all I really need is proof.
      Link, please.

    2. The link has already been provided to you.

    3. Gee, it talks about teaching that stuff, then there’s all that other stuff in that murky bill.

    4. "racial jihad"

      From Andrew Anglin's anus to TDH vi @ 2:43 PM.

  11. I don't think the story of Rosa Parks should be taught in first grade. The subject of Jim Crow is too complex for first graders to understand all the ramifications.

    I actually think that young children should first be taught about all the good things the US did, e.g.,
    -- creating a democracy that's been copied in much of the world
    -- Defeating Hitler and Imperial Japan
    -- Containing the USSR and winning the Cold War
    -- Saving Europe economically after WW2 via the Marshall Plan
    -- Leading the world in inventions such as the airplane, electric lights, the assembly line.

    The US has not been perfect, but IMO we've done far more good than harm. I think children should first be taught about the very valid reasons to be proud of their country.

    1. Young people should learn about Rosa Parks when they study critical race theory in graduate school.

    2. @5:51 PM's mini-masterclass in logical fallacies.

    3. The US produced Frank Sinatra and Elvis Presley.

    4. 5:51,

    5. The US is the only country that ever sent expeditions to the moon.

    6. If you only teach the good stuff you are propagandizing not teaching history.

    7. The US struck the first blow against the British Empire.

    8. @1;22 I only said to teach the good stuff in first grade.

      But, I do recommend focusing on good stuff. IMO it is essential the citizens live their country. If not, they will not sacrifice to preserve it, and the country will not survive.
      D in C

    9. People love their country based on ties to family and community, not because they are lied to in school.

    10. The US and the British Empire working together, helped the Soviet Union to defeat Nazi Germany.

    11. Only teach First Graders about what the Left has done for their families.
      We can wait until they are 18 years old, before teaching them about the horrors to them from the Right.

    12. @4:48 - "good stuff" IS Rosa Parks, the Montgomery March, the lunchroom sit-ins, the Freedom Riders, and much, much more leading to the Civil Rights Act.

      Your framing is ridiculous and smacks of mendacity.

    13. David in Cal,
      You forgot the brave story of Micah X. Johnson fighting the tyranny of the government.

  12. "Meanwhile, how should first graders be taught about Rosa Parks?"






    As it turns out, Amazon lists lots of books that are having no trouble at all discussing Rosa Parks for young children.

    This is only problematic for Somerby, who insists there is no perfect way to discuss anything, and racists, who won't like what Rosa Parks did or why she had to do it. I think the latter are the people in FL who are charged with making it so difficult for publishers to find the right balance that they will no longer attempt it.

    Meanwhile, discussing civil rights with children is not difficult if you are on the side of justice, fairness and equality for all people. Children get those concepts and want to apply them. The problem is trying to explain why there were adults in the past who would make a woman like Rosa Parks move to the back of the bus.

    My feeling is that racist Southerners made their bed, now let them lie in it. And they would have no trouble with that except that they don't want to say the quiet parts out loud and risk looking like assholes in front of their own kids.

  13. What do you suppose it means that the dumbed down version was not accepted due to an unspecified bureaucratic snafu? It sounds like the way a bureaucracy would get itself off the hook for approving a blatantly dumbed down version of a textbook, if it didn't want to attract controversy. To Wagner's credit, she is addressing the controversy anyway. Somerby blames her for that, largely because he prefers the narrative that the Stop Woke ACT (Somerby ALWAYS calls it childishly named, but woke is a conservative construction) is reasonable and can serve as a useful guideline for getting to a perfect discussion of racial topics. This situation doesn't support that idea, but Somerby goes on and on as if it did.

    How many bureaucratic snafus must happen before someone realizes that the act itself is unworkable because of its vagueness and conflicting demands on publishers?

  14. "Eskamani let it be known that people who don't share her own infallible views are "some of the worst characters," apparently on the whole planet."

    In fairness, Eskamani didn't say that those people didn't share her own views. She said they were major extremists.

    Eskamani was answering a question about whether there were any progressive groups pushing back at the state level. The answer was clearly that there were not, only a bunch of right wing extremists. When a conservative governor surrounds himself with only right-wing extremists, the interests of those to the left are being neglected.

    Somerby glosses over that point himself. An extremist faction that is dictating content of social science textbooks is not the best way to teach anything whatsoever. Somerby doesn't want to focus on that. I find myself wondering why?

  15. Alex Wagner does not have to spend night after night wrestling with how to talk to kids about Rosa Parks, because that is what teachers and curriculum developers are trained to do. They have the training, knowledge and experience to present material appropriately to children. Somerby should know that, but somehow in his old age, he has acquired some peculiar ideas about how teaching works.

    Besides, the story is not about how to teach about Rosa Parks to children, but about the governor of a state meddling in the specifics of education for political purposes. Somerby completely glosses those politics, pretending there is nothing wrong with an ACT designed to restrict how racism is discussed in schools. Somerby wishes to shrug and say it is too difficult to find a perfect answer and ignore that ALL subjects must be taught despite the realities of imperfection.

    Equivocation like Somerby's results in paralysis. It is not how anyone should approach any decision making. While Somerby expends a lot of words saying nothing much on that topic, his main reason for writing is to trash Alex Wagner, liberals, and those who object to what is going on in FL and elsewhere across the country as conservatives attack schools and waste huge amounts of time in order to whip their core into a frenzy of fear over whatever it is that conservatives care about (it sure isn't education). More name calling by Somerby aimed at the left is unhelpful to our nation's children. But we all know that Somerby doesn't give a damn about the kids. It is politics all the way down. And he calls us dumb!

  16. If I had a young child in the FL state schools, I would move to a blue state.

  17. The name is Mann. Fanny Mann.

  18. It's no wonder blacks are leaving the Democratic party.

    1. It's no wonder Russia is stealing children. Seems all they got left is bots like you.

    2. Yeah, if this keeps up you may get 4 or 5 percent of the black vote.

  19. I remember when Somerby was gloating because Stormy Daniels was going to "take down" Donald Trump but that didn't happen -- who is laughing now? It looks like Donald Trump will be indicted over the Stormy Daniels incident after all. And that may give other prosecutors the courage to charge Trump for the other crimes he has committed, such as the money laundering through Truth Social being reported today.

    1. So just to be clear, you are gloating now are you not?

    2. Absolutely! And he who gloats last gloats best. It is sweet to see Somerby be wrong about this, much as he has hated on Stormy Daniels, called her a grifter and a con artist, and an extortionist. This is very sweet indeed. I hope we get a picture of Trump in handcuffs. If I knew Somerby personally, I would mail him a framed copy of it.

    3. They should've started the frog march with Nixon and kept going with Reagan, old man Bush, and W.
      It's why we have Trump and his rabble running the GOP.

    4. Would those all also be 7 year old cases that Federal prosecutors refuse to bring to court?

    5. How wrong was Somerby? Stormy is plainly an extortionist, and the chances of this case resulting in a conviction are tiny.

      This prosecution is the result of all that Somerby has argued against lo these many years: the blue tribe's refusal to see the world as it is, rather than how they would like it to be.

  20. I am a bot. I am here to gather data on human responses.

  21. Ron Desantis and the Florida Taliban enacted a law that targets teachers and threatens them prosecution as third degree felons for reading what they consider the wrong books to their students. The school board in Duval County took this threat seriously and began reviewing their collection of 1.5 million titles last summer. Roughly 10 thousand books have been reviewed, less than 1%. Of course knowing the percentage would require learning math, which is made more difficult by the state banning over 40% of math textbooks. Clearly that precedent, set by the state, had the Duval County School Board nervous. A book about Roberto Clemente was taken off the shelves for contentious content about race.DeSantis showed up in Jacksonville decrying this, being a baseball fan, last week. He then targeted the county's school board as dragging their feet in the book review process, for political reasons. The county, and its largest city, Jacksonville are run by republicans, incidentally.The school board issued a statement in response, essentially retorting that they assumed DeSantis and his minions had intended to be taken seriously. The targeting of underpaid first grade teachers as potential felons will someday make it into a history textbook, only to be banned in the State of Florida.