JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis continues making national headlines. His administration drew the ire of many last week after it pulled the plug on a proposed advanced placement African American studies course.
Speaking at a Jacksonville charter school Monday, DeSantis answered questions for the first time about why the course was canceled.
"In Florida our education standards do not prevent, but require teaching Black history ... that’s part of our core curriculum. This (AP African American studies) was a separate course for advanced placement credit." DeSantis said at Duval Charter School at Baymeadows during a news conference on teacher salaries.
He called the proposed course "indoctrination, not education."
The state Department of Education on Friday released a statement about its decision to cancel the course which stated in part, “as presented, the content of this course is inexplicably contrary to Florida law and significantly lacks educational value.” The department also cited the inclusion of political literature from many Black scholars, feminists, writers and activists. Other topics in the proposed course at odds with the department include reparations and intersectionality, according to FDOE.
"This course, what are one of the lessons about? Queer theory," DeSantis said. "Who would say that an important part of Black history is queer theory? That is somebody pushing an agenda on our kids."
The governor mentioned other parts of the proposed course that deals with intersectionality and abolishing prisons. "That’s a political agenda," he said. "That’s the wrong side of the line for Florida standards. When you try to use Black history to shoehorn in queer theory, you are clearly trying to use that for political purposes.
"I also think it’s not fair that somehow abolishing prisons is somehow linked to Black experience, that’s what Black people want" DeSantis said. "I don’t think that’s true at all. I think they want law and order just like anybody else wants law and order. That’s ideology being used under the guise of history."
Jean Ribault High School History Teacher Wayne Green teaches a similar course that isn't Advanced Placement, and says he would've been interested in teaching it if it hadn't been nixed by the state.
The course is exactly what Green feels some students need as an option to learn more about issues that are important to them.
"We have AP courses for Chinese, Latin and any other particular subject or course area, so what's so wrong about African Americans learning about their history," said Green. "Especially if they can relate to it."
This may not be the last we hear of African American Studies.
The state department of education told College Board, the creators of AP classes, that they'd reconsider the course if it aligned with state law.