The Florida Department of Education (FDOE) is rejecting the AP African American Studies course over content — it contains a section on “Black Queer Studies” as well as cultural appropriation and reparations and the “global influence of the Black Lives Matter” movement — asserting that the course itself is “inexplicably contrary to Florida law and significantly lacks educational value.”
The department’s letter, addressed to Brian Barnes, Senior Director, College Board Florida Partnership, serves as what it describes as a confirmation that the FDOE “does not approve the inclusion of the Advanced Placement (AP) African American Studies course in the Florida Course Code Directory and Instructional Personnel Assignments (adopted in State Board of Education Rule 6A-l.09441, Florida Administrative Code).”
“As presented, the content of this course is inexplicably contrary to Florida law and significantly lacks educational value,” the letter reads.
“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,” it adds.
A syllabus detailing the course lists some of the learning outcome goals, which include students being able to “identify the intersections of race, gender, and class, as well as connections between Black communities, in the United States and the broader African diaspora in the past and present.” It also states that students will be able to “evaluate the political, historical, aesthetic, and transnational contexts of major social movements, including their past, present, and future implications” as well as understand “the many strategies African American communities have employed to represent themselves authentically, promote advancement, and combat the effects of inequality and systemic marginalization locally and abroad.”
Unit 4 of the syllabus shows that studies will also focus on “the Black Feminist Movement, Womanism, and Intersectionality” as well as “Black Power,” “Black Pride,” and “Black Queer Studies.” The latter supposedly “explores the concept of the queer of color critique, grounded in Black feminism and intersectionality, as a Black studies lens that shifts sexuality studies toward racial analysis.”
Additionally, the course delves into topics including cultural appropriation, reparations, and “afrofuturism.”
Another section of the syllabus shows a focus on the “Movements for Black Lives” which, in part, explores the “origins, mission, and global influence of the Black Lives Matter movement.”
The document also provides a section on student expectations of the course and cites “several” students who take issue with reading material written by white authors in the context of African American history.
“Several students mentioned that when learning about African American history and racism they have been assigned texts by white authors or offered a Eurocentric perspective, which can be disheartening,” it states, quoting one student who said they feel as though it is “always coming from the white man’s perspective.” The document also asserted that students feel as though they have been “inundated with trauma.”
According to Bryan Griffin, press secretary for Gov. Ron DeSantis (R), the FDOE believes the course itself lacks historical accuracy and serves instead as what he described as a “vehicle for a political agenda and leaves large, ambiguous gaps that can be filled with additional ideological material, which we will not allow.”
“As Governor DeSantis has stated, our classrooms will be a place for education, not indoctrination,” he said, emphasizing that the department is willing to reconsider the course with a revamp, prioritizing historical accuracy without hidden agendas.
The DeSantis administration has emphasized that it will not allow schools to “twist history” and has responded to critics of his approach.
DeSantis told reporters in September that teachers are “required to teach slavery, the post reconstruction and segregation, [and] Civil Rights.”
“Those are core parts of American history that should be taught,” he explained, emphasizing that history must be “taught accurately.”
“You can’t teach history that’s being used to pursue an ideological agenda. You can’t teach that the foundations of our country were somehow evil. Our founders pledged their lives, fortunes, sacred honor, and they put a marker in the sand,” he added:
In Florida, we require the truth about American history to be taught in our classrooms.
We will not allow schools to twist history to align with an ideological agenda. pic.twitter.com/IlRe6UpC6j
— Ron DeSantis (@GovRonDeSantis) September 20, 2022