A proposed high school Advanced Placement course on African American studies has been rejected by the state of Florida in a letter that calls the course “inexplicably contrary to Florida law.”
The Jan. 12 letter, sent from the Florida Department of Education’s office of articulation to the College Board — the organization that administers the SAT, PSAT and other standardized tests — also says the course “significantly lacks educational value” but does not articulate its objections.
“In the future, should (the) College Board be willing to come back to the table with lawful, historically accurate content, FDOE will always be willing to reopen the discussion,” the letter said.
Cassie Palelis, press secretary for Florida’s education department, did not immediately respond to a question about which section of Florida law the proposed course was contrary to.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a potential 2024 presidential candidate, has spent much of his time in office reshaping the state’s education system and fighting against what he calls “woke” politics, signing bills restricting the discussion of race, gender and sexual orientation in schools.
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Such efforts have been embraced and parroted by Republican leaders and candidates across the country and by parent groups such as Moms for Liberty, a group born of frustrations over mask and vaccine mandates that has tapped concerns about “parental rights” and “indoctrination” of kids to gain influence while inspiring armies of moms nationwide to take up its crusade.
What is the African-American Studies course?
The College Board’s AP African American Studies class has been in the works for more than 10 years and launched as a pilot this school year, debuting at 60 high schools across the country.
Additional high schools will have the chance to offer it during the 2023-24 school year, and the course will be available at all schools the following year, the College Board has said.
The course emerges in the midst of a national clash over the teaching of race-related curriculum and battles over critical race theory, a concept examining how racism permeates American institutions. The concept isn’t traditionally taught in public schools, but the legacy of slavery is.
How did the College Board respond?
In outlining its standards for Advanced Placement courses on its website, the College Board said it opposes both censorship and indoctrination, adding that such courses are designed to “foster an open-minded approach” while enabling students “to develop as independent thinkers and to draw their own conclusions.”
In response to Florida’s letter, the College Board noted that as with all new AP courses, its African American Studies course is being subjected to “a rigorous multi-year pilot phase” in which feedback is collected from teachers, students, scholars and policymakers.
“We will publicly release the updated course framework when it is completed and well before this class is widely available in American high schools,” the College Board said. “We look forward to bringing this rich and inspiring exploration of African-American history and culture to students across the country.”