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Governor talks about rejection of Black history course that has stirred debate

Ron DeSantis
Posted at 4:42 PM, Jan 23, 2023
and last updated 2023-01-23 18:42:39-05

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — The Governor is now talking about his administration’s decision to reject an Advanced Placement course focused on African American studies.  

The state has said the class for high school students violates state law.  

Governor Ron DeSantis provided more clarity on Monday, claiming it imposes a political agenda.  

Earlier this month, the Florida Department of Education sent this letter to the College Board, who administers Advanced Placement, or AP courses, saying the course is quote “inexplicably contrary to Florida law.”  

It also says it “significantly lacks educational value.”  

On the College Board website, it states the AP African American studies course is currently being piloted in 60 schools across the nation. The course, according to the site, focuses on “how African Americans have shaped America, its laws, history, institutions, culture and arts and even the current practice of American democracy.”  

However, the governor on Monday says when he and Florida’s DOE looked further, they found it didn’t meet their standards.  

“The issue is we have guidelines and standards in Florida; we want education, not indoctrination. And if you fall on the side of indoctrination, we are going to decline. If it’s education, then we will do.”  

According to Education Commissioner Manny Diaz Jr. He tweeted Friday that they “proudly require the teaching of African American history” but “do not accept woke indoctrination masquerading as education.”  

He then shared a list of concerns the department had with the course.  

DeSantis addresses AP African-American studies cancellation

Among the six topics the agency cited, some had no critical perspective or balancing opinion. Other topics like Queer Studies and Movements for Black Lives had readings that the department believed pushed agendas like abolishing prisons.  

“I don’t think it’s not fair to say that abolishing prisons is linked to the black experience. If that’s what black people want, I don’t think that’s true at all. I think they want law and order just like anyone else wants law and order, so that’s more ideology being used in the guise of history, and we want to do history.”  

He continued, “We believe in teaching kids facts and how to think, and we don’t believe things should be imposed on them. When you try to use black history to shoehorn in queer theory, you are clearly trying to use that for political purposes.”  

However, not all agree with the governors’ viewpoints. Monday morning, religious and local leaders in Tallahassee shared their concerns about the move.  

“This is not about politics. This is about the heritage, this is about history,” shares Pastor RB Holmes. “When you devalue my history and say it it’s educational insignificant and lacks educational merit, that’s demeaning to us.”  

And the issue has even caught the eyes of the White House in recent days. The administration cited disagreement with the DeSantis administration’s viewpoints on education. In Florida’s Capitol, House Minority Leader Fenice Driskell shared her disapproval of the governor’s words.  

“In a state as large and as diverse as Florida, it is so disappointing to me that the governor would have said that, and I just don’t understand how he does not know and understand that African American history is American history and it’s absolutely something that should be taught in our schools.”  

This latest AP course rejection comes after Governor DeSantis enacted what many know as the ‘Stop Woke Act’. It bans critical race theory and what the governor deems as corporate wokeness in schools and workplaces.  

Florida 24 Network reached out to the College Board for additional comment on the governor’s concerns. As of Monday afternoon, they have not responded.  

But last week, they stated that this course, like their other AP courses, undergoes a rigorous multi-year pilot phase, collecting feedback from teachers, students, scholars, and policymakers.  

They also stated that they will release an updated course framework when it is completed. The course right now has no public syllabus but is set to be taught in classrooms in the 2024-2025 school year.  

As for Florida, the DOE did state that they would reconsider their decision should Collegeboard provide what they deem as lawful, historically accurate content