An overhauling of Florida’s education system was a hallmark of Governor Ron DeSantis’ first term. Now, the governor is continuing his purge of “woke” ideology from public schools with his recent decision to bar AP African American Studies from high school classrooms.
Florida shot to the forefront of the culture war last year when the Parental Rights in Education bill, dubbed “Don’t Say Gay” by liberal critics, was drafted and signed into law. Many prominent Democrats, including the White House, opposed this on the grounds that it would not allow the discussion of sexual themes in elementary school.
The legislation was undoubtedly a win for social conservatism, but according to some polls, the legislation was also popular with Democratic voters. Now that Governor DeSantis has not only been re-elected, but Florida voters chose to expand the Republican majority in the state legislature, it is likely the state will continue to move in this direction, as evidenced by DeSantis’ rejection of AP African American Studies.
As most students know, Advanced Placement (AP) courses are offered by the College Board to high schoolers who will soon be entering the university system. These courses, if taught with the goal of advancing a specific agenda, can tilt political dialogue among students at universities like Florida State in a certain direction. For this reason, Governor DeSantis chose to bar AP African American Studies from high schools.
Bryan Griffin, the governor’s press secretary, clarified the decision has nothing to do with the course covering African American studies. Rather, it was rejected due to its endorsement of controversial ideologies. According to the Floridian, Griffin commented, “The Florida Department of Education has rejected the College Board’s AP African American Studies course because it lacks educational value and historical accuracy. As submitted, the course is a vehicle for a political agenda and leaves large, ambiguous gaps that can be filled with additional ideological material, which we will not allow. As Governor DeSantis has stated, our classrooms will be a place for education, not indoctrination.”
In some circles, Governor DeSantis’ decision was harshly criticized. An outspoken opponent of the governor, State Senator Shevrin Jones (D), insinuated the decision was racially motivated in a post on Twitter last week.
College Board reverses course
But in the wake of DeSantis’ ban on AP African American Studies from high school classrooms, the College Board has now promised to amend the course in accordance with state guidelines.
After the state invited the College Board to revise the course to ensure its compliance with the “Stop WOKE Act,” which prohibits the teaching of critical race theory (CRT) in public schools, the organization agreed to this request. The outline for the revised AP African American Studies course will be released on February 1, to align with the start of Black History Month. It is unclear whether the state will accept or reject this new curriculum.
According to WFLA, in response to the news, the Florida Department of Education commented, “We are glad the College Board has recognized that the originally submitted course curriculum is problematic, and we are encouraged to see the College Board express a willingness to amend. AP courses are standardized nationwide, and as a result of Florida’s strong stance against identity politics and indoctrination, students across the country will consequentially have access to a historically accurate, unbiased course.”
Why Florida State students should care
What students learn in their high school years shapes how they engage with academia at a higher level. Our years in college are a vital source of intellectual enrichment, and much of this comes from exposure to opposing ideas. Because of this, critics of the governor are likely to claim that cutting this class will adversely affect the university experience.
However, conservatives have observed that due to the liberal bias of academia, Governor DeSantis’ move is simply an attempt to “even the score” by pushing back against an existing political monopoly. Regardless of our positions on these issues, every student should share the goal of preserving freedoms and steering clear of divisive, inflammatory rhetoric.