Officials in Florida have halted plans to provide an advanced-level high school course on the history of African Americans. The administration of Governor Ron DeSantis has said that the proposed course “lacks educational value and is contradictory to Florida law.” The United States’s College Board is now piloting the course in 60 high schools across the country. Nobody from the government has come out and said what exactly it is that this course violates. In a letter to the College Board dated January 12, the Florida Department of Education explained its decision to ban the course on the grounds that it violates state law.
The Department of Education “will always be willing to renew the issue” if the College Board “comes back to the table with lawful, historically correct content” in the future. The first new AP course offered by the College Board since 2014 is African American studies. More than 400 years of African American history will be covered, in disciplines as varied as literature, politics, and geography
This subject is offered as part of the Advanced Placement (AP) programme at high schools across the United States. The course “leaves wide, confusing spaces that can be filled with additional ideological material, which we will not allow,” according to a statement from a spokesman for Florida’s Republican governor, Ron DeSantis. The Department will examine the course for approval if the College Board makes changes to make it compliant, provides a full course curriculum, and includes content that is accurate to the time period, according to a statement given by spokesperson Bryan Griffin to the media.
The College Board has responded by saying the course is “going through a rigorous, multi-year pilot phase, collecting feedback from educators, learners, researchers, and policymakers.” It is the board’s hope that “this rich and fascinating understanding of African-American history and culture” can be made available to children all around the country. The National Parents Union has expressed its displeasure at the decision to cancel the African American studies class, calling it a “direct attack on the Black and all (Black, Indigenous and Persons of Color) communities.”
The group declared, “This behaviour is dangerous and should concern every American,” and added that they intend to file an appeal. Democrat Shevrin Jones, a state legislator in Florida, also voiced her disapproval of the prohibition on Twitter, noting that the state continues to offer a number of other Advanced Placement courses, including European History and a number of Language and Culture courses.
Mr. Jones remarked, “It is ridiculous how Advanced Placement (AP) African-American studies was on the chopping table in Florida.” Last year, Gov DeSantis passed a “Stop WOKE” act that restricts how lessons on race and gender are taught in Florida schools.
As Mr. DeSantis put it, “in Florida, we are taking a stand against the state-sanctioned racism that is critical race theory,” referring to the theoretical framework that recognises the presence of institutionalised racism in the United States. However, one of the course’s creators earlier stated to Time magazine that critical race theory is not covered in the AP African American studies curriculum. Rather, the course was described as “a mainstream, extensively examined, academic approach to a lively field of study” by Henry-Louis Gates Jr, a leading expert on African American history in the United States.
According to Anthony Zurcher’s analysis box, North American correspondent Ron DeSantis has been compiling the sort of record on divisive conservative themes that could form the backbone of a presidential campaign later this year. He regularly questioned government requirements to prevent the spread of Covid-19 and has broadened his criticisms to encompass the development of the coronavirus vaccinations. He raged against huge corporations, particularly Florida behemoth Disney, for bowing to liberal interests and philosophies. He’s accused social media corporations of bias towards conservatives.
But education seems to be Mr. DeSantis’ primary concern. He strongly supported state legislation that would restrict teachers’ capacity to address LGBTQ topics in the classroom. He has backed conservatives running for local school boards and appointed conservative activists to positions on university boards, both of which have caused controversy. He has advocated for preventing transgender students from participating in athletics at the collegiate level. His most recent action, which prevents Florida’s public high schools from using an advanced African American Studies curriculum, is only one part of this bigger picture. If Mr DeSantis runs for president, his pitch to primary voters is that he is the Republican who takes actual action on conservative concerns- the kind of culture-war red meat that is a staple on right-wing media channels.