Rep. Byron Donalds (R-Fla.), an ally of former President Donald Trump who has endorsed him over Gov. Ron DeSantis, praised the standards as “good, robust & accurate” in a tweet Wednesday. | Francis Chung/POLITICO
Rep. Byron Donalds pushed back against Gov. Ron DeSantis Friday for conflating the lawmaker’s criticism of Florida’s controversial new education standards with remarks from Vice President Kamala Harris.
Donalds (R-Fla.) brushed off their clash as a “dumb story” fabricated by DeSantis’ presidential campaign, as the governor vies for the Republican presidential nomination for the 2024 election.
“Let’s be clear. I don’t even have a criticism,” he said in a Fox interview on Friday morning. “My issue is with one sentence of the entire thing, one sentence of 200 pages. And the DeSantis team wants to make a big issue out of it? That’s ridiculous.”
DeSantis, along with his administration and presidential campaign apparatus, have launched digs at Donalds over the past two days — escalating a growing debate over Black history standards recently approved by the Florida Board of Education. The single sentence that Donalds accused DeSantis of blowing out of proportion centers on a revision suggesting that “slaves developed skills” that could be used for “personal benefit” later in life.
The Black conservative, an ally of former President Donald Trump who has endorsed him over DeSantis, praised the standards as “good, robust & accurate” in a tweet Wednesday. But he deemed the “attempt to feature the personal benefits of slavery” wrong and in need of adjustment, adding, “That obviously wasn’t the goal & I have faith that [the Florida Department of Education] will correct this.”
The next day, when asked about Donalds during a campaign stop in Iowa, DeSantis told reporters, “At the end of the day, you got to choose: Are you going to side with Kamala Harris and liberal media outlets or are you going to side with the state of Florida?”
The updated standards have sparked outcry from Democrats like Harris, who denounced them as “revisionist history” during a keynote address and reiterated her concerns in a speech from Jacksonville. Donalds stands in contrast as a prominent Republican voicing opposition to the guidelines.