Dear Commons Community,
After rejecting an Advanced Placement course in African American studies for high school students last week, the Florida Department of Education offered an explanation of what it found objectionable in the curriculum — citing examples of what it calls “the woke indoctrination” of students that would violate state laws restricting how race can be taught in the classroom. As reported in The New York Times.
In a document released on Friday, the Department of Education seemed to object to the more contemporary and, therefore, the more inherently politicized, parts of the curriculum, which is being developed by the College Board. The department cites the inclusion of readings from many major African American scholars, activists and writers, who explored subjects like Black queer studies, Black feminist literary thought, the reparations movement and intersectionality.
The state says intersectionality — which refers to the way various forms of inequality often work together and build on one another — is foundational to critical race theory and “ranks people based on their race, wealth, gender and sexual orientation.” In 2021, the state Board of Education banned public schools from teaching critical race theory, an academic framework for understanding racism in the United States that became a political rallying cry for parents and political activists on the right.
The Education Department also singled out activists like Angela Davis, a professor at the University of California, Santa Cruz, for being “a self-avowed Communist and Marxist”; Kimberlé Crenshaw, a professor at Columbia Law School and the U.C.L.A. School of Law, who it said was “known as the founder of intersectionality”; and the feminist writer bell hooks, for using language like “white-supremacist capitalist patriarchy.”
The College Board did not respond to requests for comment, but it said in a statement on Thursday that the multidisciplinary course was still undergoing a multiyear pilot phase.
“The process of piloting and revising course frameworks is a standard part of any new A.P. course, and frameworks often change significantly as a result,” the organization said. “We will publicly release the updated course framework when it is completed and well before this class is widely available in American high schools.”
Florida law requires the study of African American history. But Gov. Ron DeSantis, who is widely considered a top contender for the Republican presidential nomination, has gained national prominence for backing restrictions on what students in Florida can and cannot learn. Last year, he signed the Individual Freedoms Act — known as the Stop WOKE Act — into law, which regulates how race-related issues are taught in public universities, colleges and in workplace trainings. (A federal judge blocked part of the law, which still applies to public schools.)
He also signed legislation last year, referred to by critics as “Don’t Say Gay,” that prohibits classroom instruction and discussion about sexual orientation and gender identity in some elementary school grades.
And this month, the Education Department informed the College Board, the nonprofit organization that administers A.P. exams, that it would not include the African American studies class in the state’s course directory, asserting that it was “inexplicably contrary to Florida law and significantly lacks educational value.”
Manny Diaz Jr., Florida’s education commissioner, said on Twitter on Friday that the state had “rejected an AP course filled with Critical Race Theory and other obvious violations of Florida law.”
“We proudly require the teaching of African American history,” he said. “We do not accept woke indoctrination masquerading as education.”
Culture was at its highest!