Florida’s Rejection of African-American Studies Course Is A Threat To Academic Freedom

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has been an outspoken critic of what he calls “woke” politics and has made many moves in recent years to ban the teaching of critical race theory in the state. 

In line with this stance, DeSantis’ office has denied a proposed Advanced Placement course focused on African American Studies. 

According to CNN, the state cited a list of concerns provided by the Governor’s office, which objects to the inclusion of specific Black authors and historians whose papers touch on critical race theory and Black communism and also questions the inclusion of topics such as the Movement for Black Lives, Black feminism, and reparations. 

The course framework for the study of reparations, which includes “no critical perspective or balancing opinion,” also drew an objection from the state. 

A previous draft version of the state’s concerns included an objection to the study of “The Black Power Movement and The Black Panther Party.” 

The state Department of Education rejected the course on January 12, informing the College Board, which governs the Advanced Placement program, that the course violated state law.

The FCS presidents released a joint proclamation at Florida’s State Board of Education meeting that repudiated the progressivist “higher education indoctrination agenda” and committed to removing all woke positions and ideologies by February 1, 2023. 

The decision by DeSantis to reject the proposed Advanced Placement course focused on African American Studies is a dangerous move that undermines the importance of understanding and learning about the history and experiences of Black Americans.

“They have banned more books in schools and libraries than almost every other state in the country. And let’s not forget, they didn’t block AP European history, they didn’t block music history or art history, but the state chooses to block a course that is meant for high-achieving high school students to learn about their history of arts and culture.”

– White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre.

To reject the study of these movements is to deny the reality of the ongoing struggle for racial justice in the United States. Similarly, the study of reparations is crucial for understanding the historical injustices faced by Black Americans and the continuing efforts to address these injustices through compensation and other forms of redress.

Furthermore, the Governor’s office’s assertion that the course framework for the study of reparations includes “no critical perspective or balancing opinion” is misleading, as it implies that the course presents a one-sided view without considering other perspectives. 

However, the reality is that many viewpoints and debates exist surrounding reparations, and it is essential for students to be exposed to these different viewpoints to engage in informed discussions and understand the issue’s complexity.

The rejection of this course also sends a chilling message to educators and students in Florida, suggesting that specific topics and perspectives are not welcome or acceptable for study. 

This undermines the importance of academic freedom and the role of education in fostering critical thinking and informed citizenship.

Governor DeSantis has positioned himself as a leader against “woke” politics. But in reality, this decision shows that his crusade is not about promoting critical thinking and limits students’ exposure to different perspectives and ideas. 

This is a dangerous stance that undermines the importance of education in fostering a more just and equitable society.