Florida blocks the African American Studies class in high school

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TALLAHASSEE, Florida — The administration of Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has blocked a new Advanced Placement course on African American Studies in high schools, saying it violates state law and is historically inaccurate.

The state education department rejected the program last week in a letter to the College Board, which oversees TBEN classes.

Florida education officials did not specify exactly what content the state found objectionable, but said, “As presented, the content of this course inexplicably violates Florida law and lacks significant educational value.”

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“Should the College Board be willing to come back to the table with lawful, historically accurate content in the future, (the education department) will always be ready to reopen the discussion,” the letter continued.

In a statement, the College Board said, “Like all new TBEN courses, TBEN African American Studies is undergoing a rigorous, multi-year pilot phase, gathering feedback from educators, students, scholars and policymakers.”

“The process of testing and reviewing course frameworks is a standard part of any new TBEN course, and frameworks often change significantly as a result,” the statement said.

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The College Board website describes the course as interdisciplinary, touching on literature, arts, humanities, political science, geography, and science. The pilot program will debut in 60 schools across the country before expanding to other schools.

DeSantis, a potential 2024 GOP presidential candidate, has opposed what he calls liberal ideologies in schools, including classes around critical race theory, which explores systemic racism and has become a frequent target of conservatives.

Last year, the governor signed legislation called the Stop WOKE Act restricting certain race-based conversations and analytics in schools and businesses. Among other things, the law prohibits instructing members of a certain race to be inherently racist or to feel guilty for past actions committed by others of the same race.

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More recently, the Governor’s Budget Office has called on state colleges to submit spending information for programs related to diversity, equity, and inclusion, and critical race theory, raising concerns about potential cuts to such initiatives.