Florida’s ban on AP African American history class continues strain of ignorance

Aaliyah Evertz, Contributing Editor

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In late January, the DeSantis administration announced its decision to not pilot the new Advanced Placement African American Studies course in Florida high schools. Following their previous motions to prohibit talk of Critical Race Theory and sexuality and gender identity (“Don’t Say Gay” bill), students, teachers and members of the public are outraged. 

Now serving his second term as Florida’s governor,  Republican Ron DeSantis has enforced similar policies in recent years. He’s advocated to rid the state education system of what he’s called “indoctrination.” 

This “indoctrination” refers to teaching the harsh reality of racism in American history. With the “Stop W.O.K.E. Act,” he promoted a bill to end anti-racist teaching in Florida schools. Such laws restrict what can be taught about race, gender identity and other aspects of history. Florida’s Department of Education said the AP African American Studies class indoctrinated students to “a political agenda.” 

“Political,” as defined by Merriam-Webster Dictionary, is “of or relating to the government, a government, or the conduct of government,” as well as “concerned with the making as distinguished from the administration of governmental policy.” Yes, a significant portion of Black history – especially what is currently taught – involves the Civil Rights movement, and the fight for Black people to be recognized as equals in the eyes of the law. 

However, the discrimination with which African Americans have been facing for centuries should not only be attributed to law, but to prejudices held by the white man. For the past few years – especially with the rise of the Black Lives Matter Movement in 2020 – there has been confusion between what qualifies as politics or human rights and social issues. 

Many have let their political standing blur the lines of history; and as such, it’s come to affect the quality of education offered to our students today. 

Even putting the study of Black history aside, many flaws exist in the curriculum and calendar of the education system. 

Elementary schoolers still celebrate Thanksgiving in their classes as a union of the pilgrims and Native Americans – a very much sanitized version of American history. Certain counties still close schools for Columbus Day, when it’s widely known that Christopher Columbus was not a man to be celebrated. 

As much as we’ve moved forward in our society, certain legislative decisions force us to go backward. 

An AP course is never forced upon students – it’s a collegiate-level class that one is given the choice to take to challenge themselves. By taking away that choice, DeSantis isn’t eliminating the truth of Black history; he’s limiting the access by which we can learn it on a deeper level. 

The College Board has since reconstructed their course framework for AP African American Studies, removing much of what was condemned by the DeSantis administration. Critics called it a watering down of history.

Gov. DeSantis and the Florida Department of Education need to stop letting personal opinions and prejudices affect the quality of education and the access to it that we students are allowed.

Before they ban all AP courses (which DeSantis has threatened), the FDOE should survey students to see whether they want to participate. Considering AP courses are optional anyway, we should be able to take part in the consideration of what options are given to us.