AP African American Course banned in Florida

Kylie Rowe, Contributing Writer

The week before Black History Month, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis rejected an Advanced Placement course that covers African American history. This has resulted in three Florida high school students to sue DeSantis for declining their right to unbiased education. 

DeSantis claims that the course is equivalent to “indoctrination” and that impressionable students should not be subject to the topics in this course. Some of these topics include queer theory, abolishing prisons and the reparations movement. DeSantis believes all of these topics are political and that they should not be taught in the classroom. However, Fedrick Ingram, president of  theFlorida Education Association, told PBS, “These topics are not political in the sense that we are trying to indoctrinate students. We are trying to teach students the truth about American history.” 

The “Individual Freedom” measure that Florida also has in place controls the teaching of topics concerning race and is designed under the premise that it will protect students from feeling “ashamed” because of discretions of their ancestors. Many have been referencing this measure for this new case to say it falls under its protection.

The College Board has been accused of changing the criteria of this course because of Florida’s rejection of it, which would result in criteria changing nationwide. While this has not been proven, DeSantis’s denouncement of the course came just a day after the College Board’s decision to reevaluate the course content. 

Matheson Sanchez, a GC professor of Criminal Justice, was asked to comment on these recent events. 

“Long-term repercussions would be students graduating from the Florida public school system with an underappreciation of what Black folks and other people of color have gone through in this country and what they continue to go through,” Sanchez said.

As an Advanced Placement course, the African American course would still be optional for students, which is also a point of controversy. 

“I think it is shortsighted and a bit insensitive to believe that certain versions of white history could be more valuable to an average high school student than Black history,” Sanchez said when asked if he thought the course may be beneficial to be taught not just as an AP course, but also worked into basic curriculum. 

Florida has started a conversation about how much parents and politicians should have control over the public school system. Giving high school students a different perspective may not make parents happy, but it may help prepare their children for life after moving out of their parents’ house. Sanchez has a fear that “for some students, if they wait until college to start considering other perspectives, it might be too late.” 

This country has been having the same conversations about race for years, and it is Sanchez’s belief that the only way to make those conversations more productive is to start fully educating the people that are going to have them, and a course about African Americans could be a good start to that. 

“I think it is defensive in nature and counterproductive to bringing about further change and progress,” Sanchez said.

Many students feel the controversial effects of this. They feel differently because of how people learn.

“Standardized curriculum does not factor in the individuals taking the course because of the differences and preferences in how one learns, so personally, I am not the biggest fan of one set way of having to learn things,” an anonymous GC student said. 

It can be said that students agree with DeSantis because of the fact that he claims there is simply not enough educational background for this course to be taught. 

“As an elective course, if there is not enough curriculum to back having it as a course, then I agree with DeSantis,” the anonymous student said.