The administration of Gov. Florida Republican Ron DeSantis is banning new Advanced Placement courses for high school students in African American studies.
In a Jan. 12 letter to the College Board, the nonprofit organization that oversees the AP curriculum, the Florida Department of Education’s Office of Education said the curriculum is “contrary to Florida law and has no educational value.”
“In the future, if the College Board is willing to come back to the table with the acceptable, correct past, the FDOE will be prepared to resume negotiations,” the letter said.
Although the letter did not detail what the board found inappropriate in the course, DeSantis spokesman Bryan Griffin said in a statement to CNN that the course “leaves huge, unexplained gaps that could be filled with additional information, which we cannot allow.”
“As the Department of Education has previously stated, if the College Board adapts the curriculum, provides a comprehensive curriculum, and includes historically accurate content, then the Department will review the curriculum for approval,” added Griffin.
In a statement to CNN, the College Board declined to comment directly on the decision in Florida but said, “We hope to bring an in-depth and inspiring analysis of African-American history and culture to students across the country.”
The rejection of the Advanced Placement African American Studies course follows DeSantis’ efforts to reform the Florida curriculum to reduce the teaching of critical race theory. In 2021, the government enacted a law prohibiting the teaching of this concept, which examines the history of pattern discrimination in the United States and its continuing effects. The law also banned material from The 1619 Project, a Pulitzer Prize-winning project by The New York Times to revise American history on the arrival of slave ships on American shores. Last year, DeSantis also signed a bill restricting how schools can communicate about race with students.
The College Board unveiled plans to offer an African American studies class for the first time last year. The course is being offered as a pilot in 60 schools across the country in 2022-23, with the aim of making the course available in all schools in 2024-25. The first AP African American Studies exam will be given in late 2025, according to the College Board website.
Griffin shared an outline of the class’s syllabus with CNN but did not identify which sections the state found problematic. The 81-page document, called an “exhibition” from February 2022, offered lessons on “important topics from the ancient kingdoms of West Africa to the current challenges and actions of the group today.”
It is not known if Florida has any schools participating in the pilot program. The College Board says the Advanced Placement Program has been working with higher education institutions to develop African American Studies programs for over a decade.
“Like all new AP courses, AP African American Studies is taking an in-depth, multi-year approach to gathering feedback from teachers, students, scholars and policy makers,” he said. “The process of testing and revising the curriculum is a regular part of any new AP course, and the format is often subject to significant changes. We will make public the revised curriculum once it is finalized and before the class hits America’s top schools.”
In a Twitter post WednesdayDemocratic Sen. Shevrin Jones, who is Black, said Florida offers some AP culture courses.
“This political extremism and its attack on Black History and Black People, is creating an entire generation of Black children who cannot see themselves reflected in their education or their country,” he said. Jones said.
DeSantis’ move comes as his standing among conservatives has risen nationally following his public views on social issues and opposition to health officials and government officials during the Covid-19 pandemic. He is said to be trying to call for the 2024 presidency.
A group of Michigan Republicans seeking to nominate him for the 2024 race signed a letter to the Florida governor last month, asking him to “seek the presidential nomination of our Republican Party.”
The letter was signed by 18 GOP members of the Michigan Senate and House, who wrote that DeSantis “is uniquely positioned to provide the leadership and expertise that, unfortunately, is lacking at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.” Finally, he said he is “ready and willing to help you win Michigan in 2024.”
Details of the letter were first reported by Politico.
This article has been updated.