- Governor Ron DeSantis has stated that Florida will “re-evaluate” its relationship with the College Board and may consider alternative vendors for the AP courses.
- Tension between the Florida Department of Education and the College Board has escalated after the College Board issued a statement Saturday attacking Florida’s stance on topics like the Advanced Placement African American studies course.
- DeSantis and Republican officials say they are prepared to find an alternative vendor to provide AP course curriculum.
At a press conference on Monday in Naples, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said the state will “look to re-evaluate” its relationship with the College Board, an organization that develops Advanced Placement (AP) courses, after the group issued a controversial political statement attacking the DeSantis Administration late Saturday, days after the group announced it was removing controversial subject matter, including queer theory and black feminism from an African American studies course.
The College Board’s late Saturday statement blasted state officials and expressed regret for not pushing back against the DeSantis Administration’s public objections to the controversial content.
“We deeply regret not immediately denouncing the Florida Department of Education’s slander, magnified by the DeSantis administration’s subsequent comments, that African American Studies ‘lacks educational value.’ Our failure to raise our voice betrayed Black scholars everywhere and those who have long toiled to build this remarkable field,” the statement said.
Only days prior, the situation seemed to have abated, after The College Board announced it was revamping the curriculum and that much of the controversial subject matter would be removed. The College Board went out of its way to insist they had removed the controversial curriculum on their own, and not because of the DeSantis Administration, which took a wait-and-see approach to evaluate the changes before making a final decision on whether to use the materials in Florida schools.
The Florida Department of Education responded to the updated framework in a Feb. 7 letter to The College Board, saying it was looking forward to “reviewing your complete and official resubmission of the course” for the next school year.
Now, however, it appears whatever good will The College Board may have earned by removing the controversial subject matter was squandered with the release of the critical statement.
DeSantis used a press conference in Naples on Monday to blast The College Board’s weekend remarks in response to a reporter’s question about the matter, saying that the state planned to reevaluate its relationship with the group.
“The College Board was the one that–in a black studies course–put queer theory in. Not us–they did that,” DeSantis said. “They were the ones that put in intersectionality. They put in other types of neo-Marxism into the proposed syllabus. This is the proposed course. So, our Department of Education looked at that and said, ‘in Florida, we do education not indoctrination.’ And so that runs afoul of our standards. And you know, many people agree with that in other states. We were just the only ones that had the backbone to stand up and do it because they call you names and they demagogue you when you [stand up].”
DeSantis also used the event as an opportunity to call on other states to follow Florida’s lead, saying that he’s “sick of people not doing what’s right because they’re worried” they’ll be attacked. He added that he’d already spoken to House Speaker Paul Renner and would direct state education officials to reconsider the relationship with The College Board.
“Nobody elected [the College Board] to anything,” DeSantis said. “They’re just kind of there and they’re providing a service. And so, you can either utilize those services or not, and they’ve provided these AP courses for a long time. But you know, there are probably some other vendors who may be able to do that job as good or maybe even a lot better. So, I’ve already talked with Paul, and I think the legislature’s going to look to reevaluate. Of course, our universities can or can’t accept college board courses for credit. Maybe they’ll do others. And then also just whether our universities do the SAT versus the ACT–I think they do both. But we’re going to evaluate how all that process goes.”
The 2023 legislative session is slated to start March 7, and various proposals targeting what DeSantis calls “trendy ideology” have been floated for consideration. The DeSantis administration’s rejection of the African American studies course has drawn criticism from Black state lawmakers and religious leaders, as well as civil-rights attorney Ben Crump, who has threatened to file a lawsuit against the administration. But DeSantis and state Republicans have made it clear that their objection isn’t to African American studies, but rather the inclusion of controversial ideological curriculum that Republicans say is indoctrinating students.
“At the end of the day, we highlighted things that were very problematic. It wasn’t just people like me saying that,” DeSantis notied. “Across the political spectrum, people were saying that–this really is junk. Why don’t we just do and teach the things that matter? Why is it always that someone has to try to jam their agenda down our throats?”