Contentious debates surrounding Governor Ron DeSantis’ education policy have continued in the last few weeks. In particular, the governor’s decision to bar AP African American Studies from high school classrooms — and his attempts to do away with diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) initiatives at state colleges and universities — have generated pushback.
However, the governor remains unfazed.
College Board recently blasted the DeSantis administration for taking a victory lap in response to changes in the AP African American Studies curriculum, including the removal of “woke” concepts like critical race theory. The organization went so far as to accuse the Florida Department of Education of “slander.”
At a press conference, DeSantis made it clear that he was not backing down.
“I’m so sick of people not doing what’s right because they’re worried that people are going to call them names. We’re doing what’s right here,” the governor said last week.
The governor has also indicated that the state of Florida will reevaluate its relationship with College Board over the issue, which could range from scaling back Advanced Placement (AP) courses to offering the Classical Learning Test (CLT) as an alternative to College Board’s Standard Assessment Test (SAT).
The CLT has been heralded as a viable substitute for existing standardized tests by some education administrators, who point out its emphasis on logical reasoning in addition to core academic concepts. Its critics have alleged it focuses excessively on “classical and Christian tradition.”
But the SAT has also come under fire for its ideological bent, which some have argued is increasingly left-wing.
And while the governor’s feud with College Board continues to drag on, the discussion surrounding DeSantis’ proposed education reforms to combat indoctrination in public universities has increasingly involved college students.
A statewide walkout at Florida’s institutions of higher learning is planned for February 23, according to the Tallahassee Democrat. Students plan to express their dissatisfaction with the governor’s targeting of DEI departments at the state’s public universities. An Instagram account has been created to advertise the event.
Though some have argued DeSantis is “suppressing academic freedom” by taking these actions, the governor and his allies have asserted that the pervasiveness of progressive ideology on college campuses is a threat to ideological diversity. As the Collegian has reported, the overwhelming majority of university professors and administrators identify as liberal or very liberal.
Discussion about the governor’s education policy has also made its way into national politics. Amid the AP African American Studies controversy, progressive activist and television host Rev. Al Sharpton led a rally in Tallahassee against the governor’s supposed “whitewashing of Black history.”
DeSantis has dismissed these claims, noting that “Florida education standards not only don’t prevent, but they require teaching Black history.”
The governor has also maintained that his education reforms in K-12 schools are in line with the desires of Florida parents.
“It’s all about trying to make these institutions more in line with what the state’s priorities are, and quite frankly the priorities of parents throughout the state of Florida,” DeSantis said.