Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R) took action this month to block a proposed Advanced Placement (AP) course on African American studies that includes extremist topics such as queer theory and the abolishment of prisons. 

“That’s a political agenda,” argued DeSantis Monday during a press conference. “That’s the wrong side of the line for Florida standards. We believe in teaching kids facts and how to think, but we don’t think they should have an agenda 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.”

The College Board was notified on January 12th via letter that the Florida Department of Education would not accept the proposed AP course. According to the Board, the course in question is already being taught in 60 schools throughout the nation.

“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,” said DeSantis press secretary Bryan Griffin. “As Governor DeSantis has stated, our classrooms will be a place for education, not indoctrination.”

Also outlined during the press conference were plans to increase teacher pay, boost teachers’ ability to push back against school districts, prohibit unions from automatically deducting dues from teachers’ paychecks, and reduce the term limit for school board members from 12 years to 8 years.

The way I see it, the proposed AP course is a blatant attempt to insert Critical Race Theory into schools with content that clearly violates Florida state laws banning educational methods that divide people into “oppressors” and “oppressed” and/or that make students feel personably responsible for historical wrongdoings based on race or sex. 

The rejected course touches on science, literature, the arts, geography, and politics. Of most concern to the Florida Department of Education were topics including reparations, Black feminism, and the Movement for Black Lives. 

“We want to do history, and that’s what our standards for Black history are,” explained DeSantis. “You learn all the basics; you learn about the great figures, and you know, I view it as American history. I don’t view it as separate history…We have history in lots of different shapes and sizes, people that have participated to make the country great, people that have stood up when it wasn’t easy and they all deserve to be taught. But abolishing prisons being taught to high school kids as if that’s somehow a fact? No…that’s not appropriate.”

DeSantis, widely viewed as a top GOP contender for the 2024 presidential election, has led the nation in keeping CRT and other leftwing content out of public schools. Already, Florida has passed legislation that bans the teaching of Critical Race Theory, prevents primary school teachers from introducing LGBTQ topics, and requires that all books in school libraries be vetted by a “certified media specialist” and be free from pornographic or otherwise “harmful” content.

These policies have earned criticism from the Biden Administration, with White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre describing the decision to ban the AP course as “incomprehensible.”

“Florida is doing its best to tilt the scales and shut down important, much-needed discussions of race, slavery, stolen lands, and undeniable history that have led to where we are as a society today,” argues Florida State Senator Shevrin Jones (D). “Governor DeSantis’s whitewashing of history and book bans are his latest assault on American history and our First Amendment rights. Horrifyingly, it is our vulnerable and underrepresented students who will suffer the most a a result.”

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