Florida rejects African American Studies AP Course, cites Critical Race Theory

(Featured image provided by Paul Hennessy / SOPA Images/Sipa)

A little over nine months ago, the Florida Department of Education rejected 41% of submitted math textbooks, citing Critical Race Theory (CRT) as the reason. Now, another educational resource has been dismissed for similar reasons.

The College Board, an organization responsible for many standardized tests such as the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT), spent over a decade developing an Advanced Placement (AP) African American Studies course. This course aims to teach students about the stories and contributions of African Americans throughout history while also giving them a chance to earn college credit. The curriculum discusses topics such as African American dispersion after reconstruction, elaboration on the Haitian Revolution, and the Civil Rights Movement. It was available to over 60 schools across the United States, including one in Florida as a trial run of sorts.

However, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’ administration rejected the course from ever being fully implemented over concerns of a hidden “political agenda” and that it didn’t meet the state’s Benchmarks for Excellent Student Thinking BEST standards. “When I heard it didn’t meet the standards, I figured, yeah, they may be doing CRT,” said DeSantis. “It’s way more than that.” After hearing this decision, many of the scholars who were involved in the making of the curriculum spoke out, saying that the claims by the DeSantis administration were not true. “There’s nothing particularly ideological about the course except that we value the experiences of African people in the United States,” stated Christopher Tinson, the chair of the African American Studies department.

In response to complaints, the state’s education agency elaborated on its reasons further in a tweet made last week. It specifically called attention to the course’s syllabus, which included reparations, “Black Queer Studies,” and intersectionality (which the agency says is a part of CRT). “We proudly require the teaching of African American history. We do not accept woke indoctrination masquerading as education,” said Florida Education Commissioner Manny Diaz Jr.

However, supporters of the course again denied the accusations made by the state. Tinson said that although it will teach about inequality, the framework of CRT is too complex to even teach high school students taking college-level courses. “The reason why this is even an important area of study is because of the historical erasures from historical records in public schools of African experiences,” Tinson said.

Moreover, Vice President Kamala Harris visited Florida’s capital, Tallahassee, on the 50th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, calling those who would dare block history from being taught in schools as “extremist, so-called leaders.” “Every student in our nation should be able to learn about the culture, contributions, and experiences of all Americans — including Black Americans — who shaped our history,” said Harris at Tallahassee. She also criticized Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” Bill, which barred educators from discussing sexual orientation and gender identity in grades kindergarten through 3rd grade.

Now, many Black Faith leaders are planning to march in front of the state’s capitol building where they will ask to speak with DeSantis and highlight their objections. “When you devalue my history and say it lacks educational merit, that is demeaning to us,” said the pastor of Bethel Missionary Baptist Church Rev. R. B. Holmes, Jr. The College Board said that it will also revise the course and update the framework accordingly.

Sources:

https://www.politico.com/news/2023/01/23/desantis-banning-african-american-studies-00079027

https://www.npr.org/2023/01/22/1150259944/florida-rejects-ap-class-african-american-studies

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