Thu. Sep 21st, 2023

Academics and lawmakers are outraged by DeSantis┬árejection of the AP’s African-American agenda

Democratic academics and lawmakers reacted angrily Thursday after the administration of Florida’s Republican governor, Ron DeSantis, rejected a new African-American studies Advanced Placement course at the high school – without even seeing its syllabus – saying it violated the state’s ban on “woke” education and “lacks educational value. ”

Some Florida Republican officials have said they believe the African-American studies course proposed by the College Board – which approves AP courses and executes SAT tests – violates the state’s Stop WOKE Act by promoting critical race theory (CRT), a university-level academic framework positing that systemic racism is inherent in American society.

DeSantis said the Stop WOKE Act, which applies to schools from elementary to university level and to businesses, is intended to combat “enlightenment as a form of cultural Marxism.”.

The law was partially blocked last year by a federal judge who rejected “the state’s authority to muzzle its professors in the name of ‘freedom'”.

Marvin Dunn, a prolific author and former Florida International University professor who has dedicated his career to preserving and sharing black Florida history, told the Daily Beast That the state’s rejection of the AP African American Studies course “means an insult to me, it means an injury to me.”.

“Florida is doing its best to stop discussions about race, slavery, anything to do with challenging the idea that racism is still a real factor in American life today,” he added.

New York University historian Diane Ravitch has written:

Just in case there was any doubt about what Governor DeSantis and the Florida legislature prohibited when they banned all discussion of “critical race theory,” that doubt has been resolved. They don’t want schools and teachers to acknowledge race, racism, or the very existence of people of color in the United States. In plain sight, the [Florida Department of Education] has banned an AP course in African American studies.

The department said the course content is historically inaccurate and violates state law, even though the department has never seen the course curriculum.


DeSantis, a potential 2024 presidential candidate, has endorsed dozens of right-wing school board candidates while purging education officials who promote or enforce Covid-19 mandates. Last year, he outraged LGBTQ+ advocates by enacting the so-called “Don’t Say Gay or Trans” bill, falsely claiming that schools were promoting “pornographic” material.

Cassandra Quick, a Seattle-area attorney who is black and transgender, said Shared dreams that Republicans like DeSantis “seek to silence the stories and histories of black and brown people, and queer people, in order to maintain the cultural, economic, and political hegemony they have enjoyed since the creation of the United States and which is threatened by current efforts to shed light on the realities of those they have suppressed and marginalized. ”

“Diversity and equity are offensive to the conservative worldview, and they will use every tool available to continue to enforce a hierarchy that keeps those they consider part of the group at the top, and the rest of us at the bottom, if they are to respect our existence at all,” Quick added.

In its brief letter explaining why it rejected the AP African American Studies course, the Florida Department of Education (DOE) stated that “as presented, the content of this course is inexplicably contrary to Florida law and significantly lacks educational value.”.

The letter was released on Jan. 12, just days before the Martin Luther King Jr. vacation. and days after the 100th anniversary of the Rosewood Massacre, in which white supremacists destroyed the eponymous black town in Levy County, Florida, in a murderous rampage.

Florida DOE spokeswoman Cassie Pelelis told the Daily Beast that “if the course is compliant and incorporates historically accurate content, the department will reopen the discussion.”.

In response to Florida’s decision, the College Board told the Daily Beast That “we look forward to releasing the updated course framework as soon as it is completed and well before this class is widely available in American high schools.”.

In a separate statement, the College Board said that “like all new AP courses, African American Studies AP is undergoing a rigorous, multi-year pilot phase, gathering feedback from teachers, students, scholars, and policymakers. The process of piloting and revising course frameworks is an integral part of any new AP course, and frameworks often change significantly as a result. ”

Reacting to the course rejection, political analyst Ameshia Cross tweeted, “Black history is American history . [the] program does a disservice to students and makes America weaker for it. “