Florida Rejects African American Studies Program, Says It ‘Lacks Educational Value’

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A new Advanced Placement course on African American studies for high school students is being blocked by the administration of the Republican governor of Florida, Ron DeSantis.

In a letter to the College Board, the nonprofit organization that administers the SAT and oversees AP coursework, the Florida Department of Education’s Office of Articulation said the course is “inexplicably contrary to Florida law and significantly lacks educational value,” CNN reports.

The letter did not include a detailed explanation of what the agency found objectionable.

“In the future, should College Board be willing to come back to the table with lawful, historically accurate content, FDOE will always be willing to reopen the discussion,” the letter stated. 

According to CNN, The College Board declined to address the decision in Florida directly but said, “We look forward to bringing this rich and inspiring exploration of African-American history and culture to students across the country.”

The denial of an AP African American Studies course comes in the wake of DeSantis’ attempts to change Florida’s educational program and restrict the teaching of critical racial theory. The concept, which examines the origins of systemic racism in the United States and its ongoing effects, was banned by state law in 2021.

The law also prohibited The New York Times’ 1619 Project, a Pulitzer Prize-winning initiative to reframe American history around the arrival of slave ships on American shores. In 2022, DeSantis also signed legislation restricting how schools can discuss race with students.

Black Democratic state senator Shevrin Jones noted that Florida offers other cultural AP courses, such as AP European History and AP Italian Language, in a tweet on Wednesday.

“This political extremism and its attack of Black History and Black people is going to create an entire generation of Black children who won’t be able to see themselves reflected at all within their own education or in their own state,” Jones said.

Last year, the College Board announced plans to offer an African American studies course for the first time. During the 2022-23 school year, the course will be offered as a pilot in 60 schools across the country, with the goal of making it available to all schools in the 2024-25 school year. According to the College Board website, the first AP African American Studies exam will be administered in the spring of 2025.

According to the College Board, the Advanced Placement Program has been collaborating with institutions of higher learning to create an African American Studies program for the past decade.

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