Florida high school students will not have the opportunity to take a new AP course focused on African American studies, with the Department of Education saying the course is “a vehicle for a political agenda.”
According to NPR, the course is in a pilot phase and 60 schools across the United States are participating. Officials pointed to concerns that the Black Lives Matter and reparations movements would be covered in the class, as well as critical race theory.
A group of about 20 professors spent the last decade working on the details of the course. One includes Christopher Tinson, the chair of the African American Studies department at Saint Louis University.
“We didn't want to just focus on slavery, although slavery is a part of it," he told NPR. "We wanted to give a comprehensive view of the culture, literature, historical development, political movements, social movements."
Education Commissioner Manny Diaz, Jr. tweeted that “Despite lies from the Biden White House, Florida rejected an AP course filled with Critical Race Theory and other obvious violations of Florida law. We do not accept woke indoctrination masquerading as education.”
Earlier this month, the Florida Department of Education announced a partnership with Volunteer Florida to host the 2023 Black History month student art and essay contest, following the theme of “celebrating the achievements of African American Floridians.”
In a press conference, Gov. Ron DeSantis addressed the controversy by pointing out that one of the course subjects covers 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,” he said. “We believe in teaching kids facts and how to think, but we don’t think they should have an agenda forced on them.”
However, the course was not intended to be a history class — it’s an African American studies class.
The move is another part of DeSantis’ overhaul of the Florida education system, which included the Parental Rights in Education Bill (also known as “Don’t Say Gay”) and the Stop Woke Act, which “prohibits instruction on race relations or diversity that implies a person’s status as either privileged or oppressed.”
The Florida chapter of the Black Leadership AIDS Crisis Coalition called the rejection of the AP course “appalling.”
“To reject African American studies, and state that it ‘lacks educational value,’ is racist at its core, and personifies his real disregard for the over three million Black Americans that reside in the state and actively contribute to its economic and cultural vitality,” the group said in a statement.