ron-desantis-african-american-studies

“Florida Is At It Again …”

Florida does it again. Ron DeSantis’ state manages to outdo themselves yet again with its recent banning of the newly crafted AP African American History course. The course, ratified by the College Board, was introduced in 2022 as an option for High Schools to pick up. While the state’s response should not come as a surprise, given the state’s “interesting” moves in the realm of education, it is a very telling move.

The “State” of Education

Earlier this year it was reported that Florida’s education system was dealing with understaffing. According to the Orlando Sentinel, the state’s vacancies in education would “soar” to nearly “5300” as of January of 2023. Now, while school vacancies are a national problem, the state of Florida currently leads the nation. There are host of reasons why this number looks the way it looks. One of these is the salary grade for educators.

Florida is one of the many states that doesn’t pay educators very well, with the average salary falling around $53,000 per year. Adjust this to inflation and add in the rising cost of living nationwide, and number comes into context. On top of this, much of the restrictions that come with teaching in the state leads to teachers heading for more progressive districts. (This is an issue that many highly conservative states have.) To be fair, even in those districts, teacher retention is a major problem.

Don’t Say ______

            In 2022, Florida passed the highly controversial “Don’t Say Gay” bill. The bill centers upon teaching topics surrounding sexual identity, particularly in younger years, which is drawing mixed reviews. While the bill has its criticism, critics point to some of the other moves to understand what lies beneath. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is very vocal about his feelings on things like CRT…he’s not with it. (By the way, CRT is essentially teaching that things like systemic racism exists, and how to combat it.) He would pass a bill in 2022 banning the use of CRT in classrooms, which was met with much dismay. Couple this with the myriad of books landing on the banned book list and the picture becomes clear.

AP African American History is just the latest thing landing on the list of things you cannot say in Florida schools. The course contains four units that delve into the essential aspects of African American History; Origins of African Diaspora, Freedom, Enslavement and Resistance, The Practice of Freedom, and Movements and Debates. Yeah, harmful, we know.

In The End

The state’s response was that they didn’t agree with the exploration of certain texts. These texts mainly consisted of titles that explored intersectionality, black feminist literary thought, etc. Banning course content that could expose students to new perspectives, truths, etc. is always a problem. It is also a microcosm of this country whose goal to bury its harsh history through producing miseducation is a concept that is alive and well.

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