Ron DeSantis administration rejects proposed AP African American studies class in Florida high schools


The Republican Governor’s Administration. Ron DeSantis of Florida blocks a new advanced placement course for high school students African American Studies.

In a Jan. 12 letter to the College Board, the nonprofit organization that oversees AP coursework, the Florida Department of Education’s Office of Articulation said the course is “inexplicably inconsistent with Florida law and significantly lacking in educational value “.

“In the future, if the College Board is willing to come back to the table with legitimate, historically accurate content, the FDOE will always be willing to reopen the discussion,” the letter states.

While the letter did not specify what the agency found objectionable in the course’s content, DeSantis spokesman Brian Griffin said in a statement to CNN that the course “leaves large, ambiguous gaps that could be filled with additional ideological material, which we will not allow .”

“As the Department of Education has previously stated, if the College Board modifies the course to comply, provides a full course curriculum, and includes historically accurate content, then the Department will review the course for approval,” Griffin added.

In a statement to CNN, the College Board declined to comment directly on the Florida decision, but said, “We look forward to bringing this rich and inspiring exploration of African-American history and culture to students across the country.”

The rejection of an advanced African American studies course follows DeSantis’ efforts to overhaul Florida’s curriculum to limit the teaching of critical race theory. In 2021, the state passed a law banning the teaching of the concept, which explores the history of systemic racism in the United States and its continuing impacts. The law also bans material from The 1619 Project, a New York Times Pulitzer Prize-winning project to reframe American history surrounding the arrival of slave ships on American shores. Last year, DeSantis also signed a bill limiting how schools can talk about race with students.

The College Board unveiled plans to offer an African American studies course for the first time last year. The course is being offered as a pilot in 60 schools across the country in the 2022-23 school year, with the goal of making the course available to all schools in the 2024-25 school year. The first AP African American Studies exam will be administered in the spring of 2025, according to the College Board website.

Griffin shared an apparent curriculum for the class with CNN, but did not specify which parts the state found problematic. The 81-page document, labeled “preview” from February 2022, provided a framework for the course covering “key themes that span from the medieval kingdoms of West Africa to the current challenges and achievements of the modern movement.”

It was not immediately clear if Florida has any schools currently participating in the pilot program. The College Board said the advanced placement program has been working with institutions of higher learning to develop an African American studies program for a decade.

“Like all new AP courses, AP African American Studies is going through a rigorous, multi-year pilot phase, gathering feedback from teachers, students, scholars and policymakers,” the statement said. “The process of piloting and revising course frameworks is a standard part of any new AP course, and frameworks often change significantly as a result. We will publicly release the updated course framework when it is completed and long before this class is widely available in US high schools.

IN Twitter post on WednesdayDemocratic state Sen. Shevrin Jones, who is black, noted that Florida offers other cultural AP courses.

“This political extremism and its attack on black history and black people will create an entire generation of black children who will not be able to see themselves reflected in their own education or in their own country.” Jones said.

DeSantis’ move comes as his standing among conservatives has risen nationally following his public stances on hot-button cultural issues and against public health officials and bureaucrats during the Covid-19 pandemic. They say it is weighing a potential 2024 presidential candidacy.

A group of Republican state lawmakers in Michigan seeking to elect him to the 2024 contest signed a letter that was personally delivered to the Florida governor last month asking him to “seek the presidential nomination of our Republican Party.”

The letter was signed by 18 Republican members of the Michigan Senate and House, who wrote that DeSantis is “uniquely and eminently qualified to provide the leadership and competence that is sadly lacking at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.” They concluded by saying that ” are ready and willing to help you win Michigan in 2024.”

The details of the letter were first reported by Politico.

This story has been updated with additional details.

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