By: Irene Lax, Senior Counsel in G&E’s Civil Rights Practice Group
As Black History Month rolled out, an advanced placement (AP) course on African American studies was rejected by Florida’s Governor Ron DeSantis. DeSantis’ administration claimed the course’s content “…is inexplicably contrary to Florida law,” and was an attempt at “indoctrinating” high school students. The rejection of the AP African American studies course is in step with Governor DeSantis’ efforts to pass legislation banning race-based education, including concepts like Critical Race Theory.
The College Board, a nonprofit organization that oversees the AP course program at high schools nationwide, is piloting a version of the African American Studies AP course at 60 high schools across the United States. The College Board collected feedback from teachers, students, scholars, and others, and released the revised official framework for the course on February 1, 2023.
In his role as governor, DeSantis, who has authority over public education in Florida, is currently involved in litigation as a named defendant in a complaint filed on behalf of students of Florida Agricultural & Mechanical University (FAMU), a historically Black college & university (or HBCU). Students claim that the State has perpetuated de jure segregation in Florida’s higher education system, including the State’s duplication of FAMU’s unique educational programs at nearby traditionally white institutions and Florida’s habitual underfunding of FAMU.
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