Written By: Ava Osorio, Yana Patel
Florida Governor Ron De Santis (Republican) has rejected an additional AP (Advanced Placement) class on African American Studies to be added to the Florida public education system, a new course that the AP College Board had recently decided to introduce to schools in the 2022-2023 school year. The AP African American Studies course explores the contributions and experiences of African Americans when it comes to looking at history, literature, the arts, geography, and science.
De Santis has claimed that this course is contributing to a political agenda. “Education is about the pursuit of truth, not the imposition of ideology or the advancement of a political agenda,” he tweeted. Gov. De Santis’ actions caused a negative response.
His reaction mirrors the Republican stance on critical race theory, the legal study of racial bias and its basis in legal and social institutions. Recently, it has become a heavily debated topic in the US, with Republicans generally being opposed to its place in education and Democrats generally being in support. In 2020, during one of former President Trumps’ speeches, he claimed critical race theory was “anti-white” and aiming to rewrite history. Republicans have used anti-critical race theory propaganda to further rally together the GOP and further divide the parties.
Many have come forward and pointed out that the rejection of the AP African American Studies curriculum supports a censored and whitewashed narrative of American history. It plays into a supposed “false narrative” on slavery and the Civil Rights Movement and attempts to censor past injustices acted on by the African American community.
Randi Weingarten, the president of the American Federation of Teachers tweeted, “AP courses are a pathway to help build critical thinking skills – to learn new information and apply it to life. How can Gov DeSantis erase all of Black history? This is shameful. @fedingram & I are asking the Gov to prioritize kids and their futures over his political future.”
But De Santis has a history of supporting the censorship of minority groups in school such as with the recently signed Education Bill that many have been referring to as the “Don’t Say, Gay Bill,” restricting schools from speaking on sexual orientation and gender identity.
A revised version of the curriculum was released on February 1st to commemorate the first day of Black History Month. Though the new version no longer includes topics surrounding the “origins, mission, and global influence” of the Black Lives Matter movement or intersectionality and activism, according to NPR. The College Board has debunked claims that the changes were made in response to Florida’s ban.
In a public statement issued by the College Board, Professor Kerry Haynie, states, “We reject any claim that our work either indoctrinates students or, on the other hand, has bowed to political pressure.”