Home News DeSantis Admin Defends Banning African American Studies Class

DeSantis Admin Defends Banning African American Studies Class

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The administration of Florida Governor Ron DeSantis last week blocked a new Advanced Placement (A.P.) course for high school students on African American studies, which has sparked some criticism on social media.

The news regarding the course was first reported by National Review on Wednesday. The conservative news outlet wrote that the Florida Department of Education’s Office of Articulation wrote a letter dated January 12 to the College Board, which oversees A.P.

The letter, which has been viewed by Newsweek, informed the organization that the African American studies course had been rejected due to issues with its content.

“In its current form, the College Board’s A.P. African American Studies course lacks educational value and is contrary to Florida law,” Cassandra Palelis, press secretary for the Florida Department of Education, told Newsweek. “If the course comes into compliance and incorporates historically accurate content, the Department will reopen the discussion.”

Jeremy Redfern, deputy press secretary for DeSantis, also defended the move to Newsweek. Like Palelis, he said that the studies course in its current form lacked “historical accuracy” as well as “educational value.”

“As submitted, the course is a vehicle for a political agenda and leaves large, ambiguous gaps that can be filled with additional ideological material, which we will not allow,” Redfern said. “As Governor DeSantis has stated, our classrooms will be a place for education, not indoctrination.”

Ron DeSantis speaks in Las Vegas
In the main photo, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is seen speaking at the Republican Jewish Coalition Annual Leadership Meeting in Las Vegas on November 19, 2022. The smaller image is an undated stock photo of a school classroom. Members of the DeSantis administration recently defended the decision to block an African American studies course.
Photos by WADE VANDERVORT/AFP/Getty Images

Tariq Nasheed, a film producer and author, was among those who spoke out against the course being banned, tweeting that the decision was an “anti-Black stunt.”

Democratic Representative Ritchie Torres of New York also weighed in on Twitter. He wrote, “Florida has gone from Don’t Say Gay to Don’t Say Black.”

While DeSantis has favored legislation that limits the teaching of critical race theory in his state’s schools, Redfern noted Florida law requires instruction on African American history in K-12 education.

According to Florida statutes, state schools must teach the “history of African Americans, including the history of African peoples before the political conflicts that led to the development of slavery, the passage to America, the enslavement experience, abolition, and the history and contributions of Americans of the African diaspora to society.”

Redfern also said that the College Board can amend the African American studies course to comply with the Florida Department of Education’s criteria, and it would then be reconsidered for approval.

“Governor DeSantis has continually advocated for and ensured Florida’s schools utilize accurate, historical curriculum, including curriculum that factually portrays African American History,” Redfern said.

Newsweek reached out to the College Board for comment.

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