Florida Blocks New African American Studies Class

Course is 'inexplicably contrary to Florida law,' board of education says
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 20, 2023 12:48 PM CST
DeSantis Rejects African American Studies Class
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks at the annual leadership meeting of the Republican Jewish Coalition, Nov. 19, 2022, in Las Vegas.   (AP Photo/John Locher, File)

The administration of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has blocked a new Advanced Placement course on African American studies from state high schools, saying the pilot program's content is "historically inaccurate" and "inexplicably contrary to Florida law." A Jan. 12 letter from the Florida Department of Education to the College Board didn't specify what part of the course it objected to, but DeSantis signed a law dubbed the "Stop WOKE Act" last year that restricts how race-related issues can be taught in the state, the New York Times reports. The education department said the course "significantly lacks educational value," but if the College Board is "willing to come back to the table with lawful, historically accurate content, FDOE will always be willing to reopen the discussion."

Last summer, the College Board said a pilot program to "offer high school students an evidence-based introduction to African American studies" would be launched in 60 high schools across the US this school year, with more to follow in the 2023-24 school year, the Guardian reports. The board said that as with the introduction of other AP courses, the new course "is undergoing a rigorous, multiyear pilot phase, collecting feedback from teachers, students, scholars and policymakers." The board said course frameworks often "change significantly" after feedback, and the updated framework will be released "well before this class is widely available in American high schools."

The College Board says the new course covers more than 400 years of African American history, including topics like literature, political science, and geography. DeSantis spokesman Bryan Griffin said the course "leaves large, ambiguous gaps that can be filled with additional ideological material, which we will not allow." One of the course's developers, Henry Louis Gates Jr, a leading scholar on African American history, said last year that the course doesn't involve "critical race theory"—an academic approach to systemic racism that DeSantis has denounced as "state-sanctioned racism"—but "is a mainstream, rigorously vetted, academic approach to a vibrant field of study." (More Florida stories.)

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