Saying that an African-American studies course “lacks educational value,” Gov. Ron DeSantis’ administration is defending its rejection of the curriculum, while Black religious leaders and elected officials are pledging to “fight like hell” against the decision.
Black lawmakers, religious leaders and local elected officials are organizing events to speak out after the state Department of Education’s Office of Articulation on Jan. 12 sent a letter advising a senior director at The College Board that the Advanced Placement African American Studies course won’t be offered in Florida public schools. The College Board develops Advanced Placement courses.
House Minority Leader Fentrice Driskell, D-Tampa, said Monday the DeSantis administration’s decision is the “first of what I believe will be many attempts to whitewash history in order to suit emotionally fragile people.”
But during a news conference in Jacksonville, DeSantis defended the rejection, which has drawn national media coverage in recent days and criticism from the Biden administration.
“We believe in teaching kids facts and how to think, but we don’t believe they should have an agenda imposed on them. When you try to use Black history to shoehorn in queer theory, you are clearly trying to use that for political purposes,” DeSantis said.
Advanced Placement, or AP, courses are college-level classes offered to high-school students.
The Department of Education last week published a list of “concerns found within” the course and focused on five topics: “intersectionality and activism,” “Black queer studies,” “movements for Black lives,” “the reparations movement” and “Black study and Black struggle in the 21st Century.”
“Intersectionality is foundational to CRT (critical race theory), and ranks people based on their race, wealth, gender and sexual orientation,” one of the listed concerns said. DeSantis frequently decries critical race theory, which is based on the premise that racism is embedded in American society, characterizing the theory as a vehicle for the indoctrination of students.
The department said a concern about instruction related to the reparations movement is that all “points and resources in this study advocate for reparations.”
“There is no critical perspective or balancing opinion in this lesson,” the department said.
The department also took issue with several authors whose works would have been required reading in the course.
But the rejection has drawn widespread criticism from Democrats and Black leaders.
“It is incomprehensible to see … this ban, or this block, to be more specific, that DeSantis has put forward. If you think about the study of Black Americans, that is what he wants to block,” Karine Jean-Pierre, White House Press Secretary, said during a press briefing Friday.
Meanwhile, the NAACP said in a statement Monday that it is “outraged” about the education department’s “‘whitesplaining’ of Black history and culture.”
Also, state Sen. Shevrin Jones, D-West Park, announced a news conference will be held Wednesday at the Capitol with Black leaders, including prominent civil-rights attorney Ben Crump.
A coalition of Black religious and community leaders in Tallahassee gathered Monday at the city’s Bethel Missionary Baptist Church to announce a Feb. 16 rally that will include national civil rights and faith leaders.
“Black history matters. Black history is not inferior. And Black history does not lack educational value,” the Rev. R.B. Holmes, pastor of Bethel Missionary Baptist, said.
“We’re organizing a campaign to have a real conversation, a positive conversation, on the quality of teaching and learning about all people’s history — and not at the expense of erasing and eliminating Black studies,” Holmes added.
Tallahassee City Commissioner Curtis Richardson, who joined Holmes at a news conference, said Black leaders would prefer to open a dialogue with the governor.
“We welcome a conversation and dialogue with the governor, if he is amenable to that. If not, we will fight like hell to make sure that African American history continues to be a part of American history,” Richardson, a former state House member, said.
But DeSantis press secretary Bryan Griffin said in a statement that, “As submitted, the course is a vehicle for a political agenda and leaves large, ambiguous gaps that can be filled with additional ideological material, which we will not allow.”
Griffin also pointed to parts of Florida law that require teaching Black history in public schools.
“Instructional materials shall include the vital contributions of African Americans to build and strengthen American society and celebrate the inspirational stories of African Americans who prospered, even in the most difficult circumstances,” one part of the law says.
–Ryan Dailey, News Service of Florida
Hope they prevail against DeSantis.
How many of us (who are older) were indoctrinated in grade school that American Indians were “savages” – even the pictures in the history books would portray them as such and reinforce that message.
And that Catholicism (if you went to Catholic school) was the “one true religion”?
It doesn’t matter what color one is. Just focus on education and stop promoting RACISM.. who cares what race you are, it doesn’t mean anything.
Go Away Boomer says
Hey Doug, it’s an AP course. Know what that means? Doubt it but here you go. Students choice. They want to learn about their history and heritage and maybe some other non-black students are interested in expanding their minds. Something you know nothing about clearly because you are just spouting Russian talking points passed to the GQP. What are you afraid of Doug? White people were slave owners. There is a difference in policing methods between white offenders and black offenders. Wake up, no one is teaching kids racism except in the home, and probably your own.
Go Away Boomer: You are teaching ageism, so you are no different than the people you preach against in your sarcastic tone. Bigotry is bigotry, and clearly you are not immune.
A full and proper education about US history requires a discussion of the effects of historical racism. History in Flagler County schools is often taught from a white perspective and a whites-are-right one – or so it was when I took US History at FPCHS in 2005!
Discussing the enslavement of Black Americans before and during the initial Union, the movement to free them (abolition), the rise of the KKK and how long lynchings were allowed and encouraged, red-lining practices that prohibited them from living in integrated neighborhoods, the fight against integrated schools, and the prison pipeline. Did you know Flagler County didn’t integrate until 1972? I wasn’t taught that at FPCHS.
As Paula says above, we have to discuss the true role of Native Americans – not witless savages who needed to be conquered and pushed out by the white Europeans, but as peoples with thriving culture who lived here before 1492. We need to talk about the casting of Natives as godless, as savage, as warlike, to whip up sentiment against them so we could justify taking their lands, Trail of Tears, the pushing of Natives to reservations. And we should discuss the issues of Native poverty caused by our policies.
And this idiot wants to be president…… A racist, power greedy punk who wants to run things like 1940’s Germany. I can’t believe he got reelected. His focus needs to be on real issues here in Florida. Like the soaring taxes and homeowners insurance.
DeSantis is a racists and he should be ashamed to say he is a Christian because he is showing us he is not.
Makes you wonder if this was taught to him by his parents and now he is passing that on to his children.
First the Don’t Say Gay Bill…now the Don’t Say Black Bill.
Tony Mack says
They might also want to get into this fight as once again, Republicans and DeSantis find another way to threaten teachers with felonies for not doing exactly as ordered…
This ought to solve the “woke” problem…just restrict the books in school libraries and punish teachers who don’t obey…Notice the phrase “vetted by a credentialed librarian…” Now the Governor will simply appoint people who he deems to be credentialed librarians and the problem is solved.
Teachers in Manatee County, Florida, are being ordered to remove or make inaccessible libraries of books inside their classrooms or face possible felony prosecution, as the district responds to legislation Governor Ron DeSantis signed into law prohibiting any books that have not been thoroughly vetted by a credentialed librarian.
The law, which went into effect at the start of this year, “is based on the premise, promoted by right-wing advocacy groups, that teachers and librarians are using books to ‘groom’ students or indoctrinate them with leftist ideologies,” according to Judd Legum at Popular Information.
He puts it simply: “classroom libraries that are curated by teachers, not librarians, are now illegal.”
“My heart is broken for Florida students today as I am forced to pack up my classroom library,” one teacher wrote on Facebook, Legum reports.
Calling it a “travesty to education, the future of our children and our nation,” another teacher lamented they have spent 18 years “dedicated to providing students with quality literature,” and helping them “connect with books and develop a love of lifelong learning,” but now they will have to dismantle their classroom library.
Kevin Chapman, the Chief of Staff for the Manatee County School District, “says that school principals in Manatee County were told Wednesday that any staff member violating these rules by providing materials ‘harmful to minors’ could be prosecuted for ‘a felony of the third degree.'”
Not only are teachers now packing up their classroom libraries, but children are being told they are not allowed to bring any books from home to school.
Books can be returned to the classroom only after vigorous review by certified librarians, whose official title is media specialist. They are also subject to felony prosecution if they make any errors.
“That review must also be consistent with a complex training,” Legum reports, “which was heavily influenced by right-wing groups like Moms For Liberty and approved by the Florida Department of Education just last week. Any mistake by a librarian or others could result in criminal prosecution. This process must be repeated for any book brought into the school on an ongoing basis. But librarians and teachers are not being provided with any additional compensation for the extra work.”
Earlier on Monday Gov. DeSantis defended the decision to ban advanced placement for African American history classes in Florida.
Standing in a school classroom at a podium with a sign that reads, “Florida, the education state,” DeSantis declared the “issue is we have guidelines and standards in Florida.”
“We want education, not indoctrination. If you fall on the side of indoctrination, we’re going to decline. If it’s education, then we will do.”
“This course on Black history. What are one of, what’s one of the lessons about? Queer theory.”
“When you try to use Black history to shoehorn in queer theory, you are clearly trying to use that for political purposes,” DeSantis said. OH, and he’s not! That’s exactly what he is doing!
Well DeSantis sure learned from Trump, didn’t he? Do, or say, something really outrageously stupid every day, and stay in the headlines. So now black history “shoehorns in queer theory.” What a buffoon! He must have some really bizarre shoehorns!
Big Brother DeSantis knows that the Democrats and the Teachers Union worked hard against this sort of thing before, so now he’s claiming “teachers rights” and pay raises in an attempt to buy them off. I think he has two surprises coming his way: 1.) teachers are not stupid, and 2.) People with dark skin are actually people too.
So, Republicans, how’s DeSantis doing on that reading (OMG), writing and arithmetic thing? How’s he doing on Florida’s real problems, instead of promoting public divide to further his personal career? Yeah. Not so good.
DeSantis Has Secrets says
It’s amazing really. Queer history is 100% ingrained in black history. First Pride parade? Black organizers. First use of Rainbow flags? Black people. It’s ridiculous. He cannot and will not erase people that are different. What is he afraid of? People finding out he’s not who we think he is? Only someone so full of self-hate wants to destroy a group of people, the LGBTQ community. There is evidence Hitler was a Gay Jewish man. He hated both things about himself. He therefore wanted to destroy all Jews and Gays. I can’t be the only one that thinks Ron has something to hide that he is ashamed of, and yes plenty of LGBTQ people have opposite sex relationships and children just to blend in because they fear the consequences and they have self-hate.
Will other Republican states do the same thing? Is this the beginnings of not teaching anything about African American contributions to the world. Is this the start of stopping African Americans from going to school. It is ok to teach European history, the white folks. People voted for him and this is what we get.
Will Asian American, Hispanic American, native American course studies be provided also? What makes the African American studies more important than any other minority in the country?
Why is it so important to classify everyone and everything by race? Would you board an airplane knowing the pilots were sitting there only because of their race? Or the surgeon who is going to cut you open? Let’s teach tomorrow’s pilots and doctors the skills that will be required of them.
The next time I fly, I will be sure to ask the pilot if he took any courses in African American studies. I am sure his answer will weigh heavily on my decision to board the plane.
Pierre Tristam says
Let’s be sure to eliminate the Chinese, French, German, Italian, Japanese and Spanish language and culture AP courses too, along with Native American and any other hyphenated histories since the above cosmopilite’s frequent-flying and a not a little bigoted philistinism would appear to be unaffected by that kind of willful ignorance. Justsayin will also likely ask the surgeon cutting open his skull (I’ll let you figure out why) not to listen to Bach and Ellington during the eight-hour surgery, since that couldn’t possibly have anything to do with a physician’s skills. Or is Bach the white Lutheran ok but Ellington not?
DeSantis is very much a racist which he is showing the country why he will never be President of the US. He is against blacks, others of color and or course gay people.
He feels if he acts like Trump that will get him elected to the President’s position, how wrong he is.
Been There says
Learning about the condition of the people who were enslaved to build this country IS education. Understanding different cultures IS education. What race you are DOES mean a lot. It means a lot when they mistreatment of certain groups of human continues in perpetuity. It determines how people are formed; what their value system is; how they were affected by biases and treated like subhumans; how up until the 70s they were alotted the same access to education and/or educational quality as others, and then rose to fight against suppression. Attitudes like the one above is EXACTLY how history repeats itself, because they choose to be blind to a comprehensive education that isn’t about the accomplishments of white men. That is spelled w-i-l-l-f-u-l i-g-n-o-r-a-n-c-e.
It would be different if all people were treated the same for all time, but that isn’t the case.
Jane Elizabeth K says
This man shouldn’t have been re-elected and I pray that he could never win the presidency.
“How curious a land is this, how full of untold story, of tragedy and laughter, and the rich legacy of human life; shadowed with a tragic past, and big with future promise!”
— W.E. B. Du Bois, The Souls of Black Folk, 1903
Yeah DeSantis, let’s keep all the stories “untold.”
dan beasley says
Long live Desantis, who will make a great President in the coming years. Someone with a ton of common sense who is bringing to light the bloodsuckers of the world who only take from society and never give a damn thing. Keep up the good work Governor.
dan beasley: You have a very narrow view of the world. Precisely who are the “bloodsuckers of the world” and what exactly do they “take from society and never give a damn thing”?
Two things DeSantis is short on: 1.) common sense, and 2.) a personality.