Ron DeSantis, the Republican governor of Florida, has withdrawn from teaching a new advanced placement course in African American studies on high school campuses. He claims the course violates state law and has “no educational value.”
The move is the latest in a series of moves to keep conversations and lessons about race, sexuality and gender identity off the state’s school campuses.
DeSantis officially banned the course in a letter from the state Department of Education to the College Board, the organization that administers college-readiness exams like the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT). They also oversee Advanced Placement (AP) courses that allow students to earn college credit in subjects such as English and Chemistry.
On January 12 letter to the college boardthe Florida Department of Education said the course was “inexplicably inconsistent with Florida law and substantially lacking in educational value.”
In the summer of 2022, the College Board announced the launch of a pilot program to “offer high school students an evidence-based introduction to African American studies” in 60 high schools across the country during the 2022-23 school year. to expand to other campuses next year.
“Like all new AP courses, AP African American Studies is undergoing a thorough, multi-year pilot phase, gathering feedback from faculty, students, scholars and policymakers,” the College Board said in a statement.
“The process of piloting and revising the course framework is a standard part of any new AP course, and as a result, the framework often changes significantly,” the statement said.
DeSantis, a former ally of Donald Trump, has played an active role in stoking social and political anxieties, primarily among white Americans, stemming from conversations about race and gender happening on K-12 public school campuses. In April 2022, he signed Stop Wake Actwhich severely limits “racial” discussions in schools.
He also took the same intolerant approach to talking about LGBTQ+ people. In March 2022, he signed a highly controversial law called the “don’t say gay” bill.. The policy prohibits the teaching of sexual orientation and gender identity in kindergarten through third grade. It has drawn intense national attention from critics who say it threatens to marginalize LGBTQ+ people and embroil DeSantis with Disney employeesa major source of tourism and employment in Florida.
The DeSantis administration is also asking Florida universities disclose the number and ages of their students who have sought treatment for gender dysphoria, including sex-reassignment surgery and hormone prescriptions. It remains unclear why he is seeking this information from universities, according to the Associated Press.