JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Faith and civic leaders will launch a statewide movement to reverse the Florida Department of Education’s decision on African American studies.
Several groups held a news conference Monday morning in Tallahassee. They announced a rally that will take place during the first week of February.
Earlier this month, the state education department rejected African American studies courses from the Advanced Placement curriculum in high school. According to a letter sent to the College Board, the department said the course is “inexplicably contrary to Florida law and significantly lacks educational value.” However, the letter didn’t specify what the agency found objectionable.
“In the future, should College Board be willing to come back to the table with lawful historically accurate content, the education department will always be willing to reopen the discussion,” the letter said.
In a statement, the College Board said, “Like all new AP courses, AP African American Studies is undergoing a rigorous, multi-year pilot phase, collecting feedback from teachers, students, scholars and policymakers.”
The governor’s office said the course violates state law and is historically inaccurate. In 2021, the state banned teaching Critical Race Theory. Last year, Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a bill restricting how schools can talk about race with students. The Stop WOKE Act bars instructions that say members of one race are inherently racist or should feel guilt for past actions committed by others of the same race, among other things.
According to the College Board website, the course is described as interdisciplinary, touching on literature, arts, humanities, political science, geography and science.
The contested course is in the pilot phase with 60 schools participating, including one in Tallahassee.
DeSantis addressed the controversy during a news conference at a Jacksonville charter school.
“In the state of Florida, our education standards not only don’t prevent but they require teaching Black history, all the important things that’s part of our core curriculum,” DeSantis said Monday. “This was a separate course on top of that for Advanced Placement credit. And the issue is we have guidelines and standards in Florida. We want education, not indoctrination. If you fall on the side of indoctrination, we’re going to decline, if it’s education, then we will do. So when I heard it didn’t meet the standards, I figured, yeah, they may be doing [inaudible] it’s way more than that. This course on Black history, what’s one of the lessons about? Queer theory. Now, who would say that an important part of Black history is queer theory? That is somebody pushing an agenda on our kids. And so when you look to see they have stuff about intersectionality, abolishing prisons, that’s a political agenda. And so, that’s the wrong side of the line for Florida standards. We believe in teaching kids facts and how to think, but we don’t believe they should have an agenda imposed on them. When you try to use Black history to shoehorn in queer theory, you are clearly trying to use that for political purposes.”
According to Merriam-Webster, intersectionality is defined as “the complex, cumulative way in which the effects of multiple forms of discrimination (such as racism, sexism, and classism) combine, overlap, or intersect especially in the experiences of marginalized individuals or groups.”