A little while ago, we wrote about 60 new Advanced Placement African American Studies courses getting piloted across the United States. The take was cheeky and in jest, ending with a list of things they definitely weren't going to teach children in those courses (i.e. Martin trivia). But on a serious note, there was always a question if an AP African American Studies course could actually thrive in some states, as conservative politicians steadfastly battle “wokeness” and critical race theory. Turns out, Florida is now rejecting the courses outright.
The Florida Department of Education’s Office of Articulation sent the College Board a letter that rejected the AP African American Studies course on the grounds that it is, according to Gov. Ron DeSantis’ administration, “inexplicably contrary to Florida law and significantly lacks educational value.” Multiple news organizations have reached out for clarification on what exactly they mean by this, but haven’t received a response.
The unlawful part doesn’t need much clarification. DeSantis is a strong proponent of Florida’s “Stop Woke Act,” which was passed by the state’s legislature in March of last year. Essentially, it is a dog whistle used to suppress the free speech that its authors and supporters imply they care about and a tool to whitewash America’s racist past and present to ensure institutional racism remains an instrumental part of American life in the future. In November, Chief U.S. District Judge Mark Walker granted a preliminary injunction, which should prevent the state from enforcing this law—legislation that the judge called “positively dystopian.” Florida has already been accused of violating this injunction and it sounds like this is another clear example as well.
On the issue of the course “significantly lacking educational value,” that sounds like a complete fabrication. It’s a wonder why a class on European or French history is deemed worthy of intellectual pursuit in Florida’s eyes, but African American culture and history are not. It kind of proves the point of the need for AP African American Studies. The way in which Florida's government is trying to suppress the class should actually be the first lesson come Spring 2025, when the class is done with its pilot phase.
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