AP African American Studies course rejected as ‘contrary to Florida law,’ state says

FDOE: State is willing to rethink course if changes are made

Desks in classroom (File) (WDIV)

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – In its current condition, an Advanced Placement course on African American Studies will not be implemented in Florida on grounds it lacks educational value and stands against state law, according to correspondence from the Florida Department of Education.

The course, in development for more than a decade, has only so far launched as a pilot program in 60 U.S. schools, according to College Board. It bills itself as one that “reaches into a variety of fields — literature, the arts and humanities, political science, geography, and science — to explore the vital contributions and experiences of African Americans.”

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In a letter dated Jan. 12, FDOE’s Office of Articulation wrote to College Board that the content of the course “is inexplicably contrary to Florida law and significantly lacks educational value,” formally rejecting its inclusion and suggesting FDOE would reopen the discussion “should College Board be willing to come back to the table with lawful, historically accurate content.”

The letter did not specify what law or laws were threatened, nor did it provide examples of the allegedly unlawful content or the changes the state would like to see made to it.

Read the full letter below:

News 6 reached out to FDOE for comment and received the following response:

We immediately followed up to ask FDOE what the state’s messaging refers to, specifically regarding the term “Florida law.”

We have not heard back.

News 6 also asked College Board for comment; in its response, the nonprofit seemed optimistic that the course would eventually be brought to fruition, expressing a willingness to make changes for that to occur.

This comes after Gov. Ron DeSantis’ administration was accused last week of violating a judge’s order blocking parts of the Stop W.O.K.E. Act, a measure restricting the discussion of race-related concepts in Floridian schools and workplaces that the governor signed into law last April. In that ruling, U.S. Judge Mark Walker described Florida as “like a First Amendment upside down,” referring to the horror-riddled parallel dimension in the Netflix series “Stranger Things” and chalking up the law as “positively dystopian.”

Plaintiffs were focused on a December memo by Chris Spencer, director of Policy and Budget for DeSantis’ office, which ordered Education Commissioner Manny Diaz, Jr. and Chancellor of the State University System of Florida Ray Rodrigues to provide “a comprehensive list of all staff, programs and campus activities related to diversity, equity and inclusion and critical race theory.”

Jan. 12, Judge Walker disagreed with the plaintiffs’ concern that compliance with the memo would amount to enforcement of the law, ruling Florida had not violated the order.

The days since have seen emboldened, forward-thinking rhetoric from FDOE, such as a joint statement from Florida College System Presidents on Wednesday stating, in part, “our institutions will not fund or support any institutional practice, policy, or academic requirement that compels belief in critical race theory or related concepts such as intersectionality, or the idea that systems of oppression should be the primary lens through which teaching and learning are analyzed and/or improved upon.”

In a Twitter post linking to the joint statement, Diaz is quoted as having said the message shows the council’s “commitment to providing students with higher education opportunities that are free from indoctrination and woke ideology.”

Read the full joint statement below:

At a news conference Thursday near Fort Myers, though education was a topic discussed, DeSantis did not talk about the AP course.

Follow along with News 6 for further updates to this story as we receive them.

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About the Author:

Brandon, a UCF grad, joined the ClickOrlando team in November 2021. Before joining News 6, Brandon worked at WDBO.