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Florida Rejects Advanced Placement Course on African American Studies, Citing Lack of Opposing Viewpoints

In a recent development, Florida officials have come under scrutiny for rejecting a new Advanced Placement (AP) course on African American Studies. The curriculum was criticized for its alleged lack of “opposing viewpoints” and “other perspectives” on the subject of slavery. The decision, made earlier this year, has raised concerns about the state’s commitment to providing a comprehensive education that includes a diverse range of perspectives.

According to internal state documents obtained by the Miami Herald, the state claimed that the pilot program for the AP course lacked educational value and violated Florida law. This decision was made amidst Governor Ron DeSantis’ ongoing efforts to combat what he refers to as “woke” culture. The state’s passage of the “Stop WOKE Act” last summer aimed to restrict the teaching of systemic inequality.

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However, the documents obtained by the Miami Herald suggest that the decision to reject the course may have been influenced by an attempt to whitewash the country’s history of slavery. One lesson in the curriculum focused on the transportation of enslaved Africans to plantations on Portuguese colonies, which later became a model for the slave-based economy in the Americas. State reviewers expressed concerns that this lesson failed to address the internal slave trade within Africa and presented only one side of the issue.

Another lesson that discussed how Europeans benefited from the slave trade was also criticized by state reviewers. They claimed that the curriculum could lead to a viewpoint of an “oppressor vs. oppressed” narrative based solely on race or ethnicity. Additionally, a unit on abolitionists working to free slaves was deemed not “factually inclusive or balanced” by a reviewer who suggested using the term “owners” instead of “enslavers” for accuracy.

The documents revealed that reviewers repeatedly emphasized the need for including perspectives from “the other side,” although no specific details were provided. It is worth noting that one of the reviewers had ties to conservative groups, including the Civics Alliance, which advocates against “woke” standards in curriculum. However, many of the comments in the documents were not attributed to specific individuals.

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Governor Ron DeSantis, who is running for the 2024 GOP presidential nomination, has made targeting critical race theory and LGBTQ+ rights a central theme of his campaign. While he has toned down this rhetoric in recent weeks, his campaign has gained national attention.

The College Board, the organization responsible for AP courses, expressed confusion over the critiques of the course as Florida officials did not share the full findings of their review. Earlier this year, the College Board faced criticism from scholars who accused them of omitting key teaching points under political pressure from the DeSantis administration. The board admitted to coordinating with the governor’s team to make the program available to as many students as possible but later stated their commitment to revising the course to reflect a more comprehensive understanding of African American Studies.

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The College Board plans to submit the final version of the AP course for approval in November. However, it remains uncertain whether Florida’s laws will allow the course to be offered in the state. The College Board hopes that Florida students will have the opportunity to take this course, emphasizing the importance of access to this dynamic discipline.

As the debate surrounding the rejection of the AP course on African American Studies continues, it raises questions about the importance of providing a well-rounded education that includes diverse perspectives and a comprehensive understanding of history.

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