In a January 12 letter to the College Board, the nonprofit organization that oversees Advanced Placement coursework, the Florida Department of Education’s Office of Articulation said the course is “inexplicably contrary to Florida law and significantly lacks educational value.” As a result, the state was refusing to offer the course in Florida high schools.
Later, on January 23, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis attacked the content of the College Board due to its inclusion of the study of reparations, “queer theory” and political movements such as Black Lives Matter.
The governor said, “that’s a political agenda. That’s the wrong side of the line for Florida standards. We believe in teaching kids facts and how to think, but we don’t believe they should have an agenda imposed on them when you try to use Black history to shoehorn in queer theory, you are clearly trying to use that for political purposes. In Florida, we do education, not indoctrination.”
Later, the College Board released the curriculum for the course. Many of the sections objectionable to Governor DeSantis were removed. The College Board claims that the changes were made to the curriculum before Governor DeSantis made his criticism known.
On February 11, the College Board issued a statement that said, “we are proud of this course. But we have made mistakes in the rollout that are being exploited. We deeply regret not immediately denouncing the Florida Department of Education’s slander, magnified by the DeSantis administration’s subsequent comments, that African American Studies ‘lacks educational value.’ Our failure to raise our voice betrayed Black scholars everywhere and those who have long toiled to build this remarkable field.”
The College Board went on to say that “we should have made clear that contemporary events like the Black Lives Matter movement, reparations, and mass incarceration were optional topics in the pilot course. Our lack of clarity allowed the narrative to arise that political forces had “downgraded” the role of these contemporary movements and debates in the AP class. While it has been claimed that the College Board was in frequent dialogue with Florida about the content of AP African American Studies, this is a false and politically motivated charge.”
On February 13, Governor DeSantis responded that the state would reevaluate it’s relationship with The College Board. “So this College Board, they’re just kind of there and they’re providing service,” he said. “And so, you can either utilize those services or not. And so, they’ve provided these AP courses for a long time, but you know, there’s probably some other vendors who may be able to do that job as good or maybe even a lot better, so I’ve already talked with House Speaker Paul Renner, and I think the legislature is going to look to reevaluate kind of how Florida is doing that and, of course, our universities can or can’t accept College Board courses for credit.”