News Topic

Action Alerts, Advocacy, AHA Announcements, History Education


State & Local (US)

AHA Topics

K–12 Education, Social Studies Standards, Teaching & Learning


United States

The AHA has shared the following action alert with our Florida members. SB 1372 is on the agenda of the Senate Rules Committee for Monday, February 26, at 2 PM ET. It is listed as item 20 on the agenda. We encourage constituents to testify in person and/or contact the Rules Committee members to urge them to vote against the bill.

The Florida legislature is currently considering a dangerous piece of legislation, HB 1291/SB 1372. If passed, the bill would threaten the integrity of K–12 history education in Florida by imposing troubling restrictions on teacher training programs and inappropriately intervening in college curricula, classroom instruction, and professional learning. The proposed legislation requires educators to teach a history that is incomplete, tendentious, and politically driven rather than based on evidence and consistent with professional standards.

The American Historical Association intends to send a letter to the Florida legislature opposing the bill [see the letter below]. We have been informed by our contacts on the ground in Florida that the time for associations like ours to weigh in will be later, if the bill passes out of the Senate Rules Committee and comes before the full House and/or Senate for a vote. Right now, the most important voices to be heard are those of constituents. We urge you to write or call your state legislators and ask them to vote against the bill when it’s heard in committees or if it comes to the floor for a vote. Since the bill is being considered in both the House and the Senate, you can respond to the measure in either or both chambers. We especially encourage constituents whose representatives serve on the Senate Rules Committee to contact your legislators, as this committee will play an important role in whether the bill advances.

You can use the website Plural to find your state representatives and access their contact information, including email addresses. Feel free to adapt the letter we intend to send, which is available on the AHA’s website, or craft your own.

The AHA, its members, and other historians find ourselves on the front lines of a conflict over understandings of America’s past, confronting radical activists who are promoting ignorance in the name of unity. Please visit our Teaching History with Integrity site for the most up-to-date information about AHA efforts to combat these bills and for resources and expressions of support for history educators. We hope that you will distribute widely our short videos on Teaching with Integrity: Historians Speak.

If you have any questions about this proposed legislation or would like to request updates about its status, please feel free to reach out directly to Brendan Gillis, director of teaching and learning (

The AHA’s advocacy work is more critical now than perhaps ever before. If you believe in the importance of honest history education, please donate to the AHA’s Advocacy Fund to support our advocacy work.

Dear Florida Legislators:

HB 1291/SB 1372 threatens the integrity of K–12 history education in Florida, imposing troubling restrictions on teacher training programs that run counter to principles at the very core of historical thinking. The AHA urges you to reject this heavy-handed and inappropriate intervention in college curricula, classroom instruction, and professional learning.

The AHA agrees with the bill’s premise that history education should “not distort significant historical events.” And we heartily endorse its call to guarantee future educators “the opportunity to think critically, achieve mastery of academic program content, learn instructional strategies, and demonstrate competence.” These principles are central to teaching history with integrity.

Despite its rhetorical invocation to these principles, however, this legislation in fact tilts in precisely the opposite direction. HB 1291/SB 1372 would require educators teach a history that is incomplete, tendentious, and politically driven rather than based on evidence and consistent with professional standards, especially in its prohibition on content “based on theories that systemic racism, sexism, oppression, and privilege are inherent in the institutions of the United States and were created to maintain social, political, and economic inequities.” How can one teach about slavery, disfranchisement, and legally mandated racial segregation without reference to systemic racism? To do so would be to “distort significant historical events.” Would SB 1372 make it illegal to discuss Florida’s 1865 Constitution, given that it excluded all but white men from serving in the legislature? How is it possible to help students understand the importance of the 19th Amendment if they are prohibited from discussing systemic barriers to women’s political participation prior to 1919?

These questions are neither rhetorical nor unwarranted given the historically ill-informed language of this bill. The text in its current form raises troubling obstacles to honest and effective history instruction that accords with widely accepted professional norms in our discipline.

We are also deeply concerned about the unstated enforcement mechanism established by this legislation. Who decides whether “significant historical events” have been distorted, and will they be qualified to overrule the professional judgment of individual faculty? How far will the state extend its reach into university classrooms? As historians reading the primary sources relating to the origins and evolution of this legislation, and aware of its political context, we suspect that the law’s enforcement will allow contemporary politics to overrule evidence-based historical analysis. The victims of this partisan overreach will include both the educators who graduate from Florida’s public universities and the students these instructors will eventually teach.

SB 1372 establishes a mechanism for censoring classroom teaching and learning, and hence stands in stark opposition to academic freedom and true intellectual diversity. As the AHA has documented through our extensive work on career preparedness in history classrooms, the aspect of history education employers value most is students’ ability to communicate with and understand people from different backgrounds. Limiting the knowledge and intellectual horizons of Florida’s teachers in the ways proposed in this legislation would cause lasting harm to the future career prospects of young Floridians.

With more than 11,000 members, the AHA is the largest membership association of professional historians in the world. Founded in 1884 and chartered by Congress in 1889 for the promotion of historical studies, the Association provides leadership for the discipline, helps to sustain and enhance the work of historians, and promotes the imperative of historical thinking in public life.

Everything has a history, and the AHA encourages educators at all levels to “Teach History with Integrity.” We ask Florida legislators to join us in this effort and reject SB 1372.