A Miami-Dade teacher packed her luggage to travel to the United Nations to voice her displeasure with Florida’s educational standards.
Renee O’Connor is taking a break while competing for Miami-Dade Public Schools Teacher of the Year in 2022. She spent 12 years instructing AP and elective classes in African-American history. This summer brought about a change when she came across new instructions for her middle school coworkers on how to start instructing pupils on “How slaves developed skills in which some instances could be applied for their personal benefit.”
“It was that moment that was really the nail in the coffin for me,” said O’Connor. “I believe that when you are in the classroom, you have to be concerned about what your principal is going to say and how the district will react to a teacher standing up for herself, her pupils, and this very important class. Due to the fact that I am not in class, I have time to do things like visit Geneva.
O’Connor and three other individuals were invited to travel with a party that was going to meet with the UN Human Rights Committee by members of Florida’s Community Justice Project.
The Community Justice Project released a 16-page report titled “Florida: A Shadow Over the Sunshine State” in collaboration with representatives of Dream Defenders, Florida Rising, Power U Centre for Social Change, Novo Collegian Alliance, and SURU.
The paper, which was released on September 12th, details what the authors describe as “alarming and rapidly metastasizing developments in Florida under Governor Ron DeSantis.” According to the research, government strategies “stoke fear” in marginalised communities, limit freedom of speech, suffocate the truth in the classroom, and target immigrant populations.
Governor DeSantis’ office was contacted by email and phone by CBS News Miami for comment. They failed to offer one.
A survey by the American Legislative Exchange Council that named Florida as the best state in the nation for educational freedom was lauded last month by the governor and Florida’s commissioner of education, Manny Diaz Jr. The Sunshine State was placed first in the report for funding, open enrollment, and financing initiatives.
In a news statement posted on the website of the Florida Department of Education in September, Governor DeSantis stated that “this new ranking further proves that Florida is the national leader in education.” “By focusing on academic achievement, expanding school choice and empowering parents, Florida continues to see unprecedented success in our classrooms.”
Florida’s dedication to education is evident in ALEC’s ranking, which places first nationwide for Florida’s educational freedom, according to Commissioner of Education Manny Diaz, Jr. “Florida’s dedication to universal school choice and protection of parental rights is the reason why Florida stands ahead of the rest.”
Nevertheless, the Community Justice Project has been invited to testify about issues in Florida before the UN Human Rights Committee meeting in Geneva, Switzerland, the following week.
O’Connor, Ebony Felton, a senior at Miami Northwestern Senior High School, Madison Markham, a recent graduate of New College of Florida, and Corey Davis, the founder of Maven Leadership Collective, will all testify. all of the written statements offered.
O’Connor anticipates speaking for a minute. She’s prepared to speak.
“I hope that my voice will be the voice of teachers that are afraid to speak up or don’t have the opportunity to speak up,” O’Connor stated. “I’m really doing this for all my students.”