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The Debate Over Teaching Florida History, 'Us Kids' Follows Parkland Activists, Monkeys Near Fort Lauderdale Airport

A monkey consoles a smaller, younger monkey
Deborah “Missy” Williams
Florida Atlantic University
A new study from Florida Atlantic University discovered the origins of the monkey colony living near the Fort Lauderdale Airport.

On this Monday, May 24, episode of Sundial,

What Should Kids Learn About History?

Florida’s education commissioner Richard Corcoran believes that some teachers are indoctrinating students with critical race theory and he wants to change the history curriculum in our public schools to remove it.

You turn to WLRN for reporting you can trust and stories that move our South Florida community forward. Your support makes it possible. Please donate now. Thank you.

“The governor is giving [Corcoran] the authority to implement the laws that we have in place, and in places where there are no laws to create rules that can make things happen," said Jeffrey Solocheck, a reporter with the Tampa Bay Times. "Just today, the governor made clear that this is a rule that he wants to see in place, that it will attack this issue of critical race theory. He wants it out and he's looking to the commissioner to make it happen."

The proposal is already raising concern among history educators.

“For my subject area, and in most social sciences, especially as it relates to American history, race as a social construct is very much embedded in the construct of our constitution, the construct of our institutions within the development of the United States of America," said Maribel Pizarro, who teaches advanced placement human geography in Miami-Dade Public Schools. "Speaking with other teachers who teach U.S. history, especially advanced placement or honors U.S. history, their curriculum as well requires them to talk about the construct of race and colonization."

You can read more of Solocheck’s reporting on the issue here.

What Should Kids Learn In History Class
Student is late to class

'Us Kids' Follows Parkland Activists

More than three years ago, a gunman walked onto the campus of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland and killed 17 students and faculty. In the following days and months, students at the high school led a movement called March for Our Lives.

Filmmaker Kim Snyder traveled with the students for months capturing their political activism and the minutiae of their daily lives.

“It was really important to me that the essence of the film was built on the idea of trauma. This is not just some theoretical movement. These are not kids that are crisis actors and pawns being used by the progressive left to put out a message of gun reform. These are kids that represent kids all over the country," said Snyder. "They're just fed up, had the horror of having classmates killed and felt like this didn't have to happen."

Sam Fuentes, one of the survivors of the shooting who spoke at the March for Our Lives demonstration in Washington D.C, is featured in the film.

“Not only did we share the experience at our school that day but we also shared such a unique experience starting March For Our Lives and continuing to build it up to be an organization that is long-lasting," said Fuentes. "We may not talk every single day because we're off to college and we're all doing our own thing. Because we share such a unique experience and connection, I can tell you right now that we will be friends and just connected forever."

'Us Kids' Follows Parkland Activists

Monkeys Living Near Fort Lauderdale Airport

A colony of monkeys has made the area near Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport their home. Many travelers and locals have noticed them. But no one really knew where they came from — until now.

It turns out they’ve been surviving in the swampy surrounding area for about 70 years. A new study from Florida Atlantic University traced this colony to their ancestors and discovered how they ended up in South Florida.

“We have them all named and we keep a photo database of all the individuals. They all have different features that make them unique. So, it's really great to have this long-term data set to be able to track the lives of these animals living here in this, you know, semi-urban landscape,” said Deborah “Missy” Williams, the lead author of that study.

The monkeys were traced to a group that escaped from a chimpanzee farm in 1948, which imported primates from Africa for medical research.

Williams created the Dania Beach Vervet Project to help protect and preserve this unique population of monkeys living in South Florida.

Monkeys Living Near Fort Lauderdale Airport
Vervet monkey sitting on a fence with trees in the background.

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Suria is Sundial's fall 2020 high school intern and a production assistant.
Leslie Ovalle produces WLRN's daily magazine program, Sundial. She previously produced Morning Edition newscasts at WLRN and anchored the midday news. As a multimedia producer, she also works on visual and digital storytelling.