Florida’s AP African American Course Ban Dangerous for Education

Ravi Baker, Reporter

The administration of Florida Governor Ron DeSantis banned a new AP African American History course from being tested in that state, claiming it was an attempt to push an agenda on young students. There are many reasons why this ban was unnecessary, including the fact that it is an optional course; nobody is forcing students to take the class. Similarly to the critical race theory debates, the anger towards this course seems misguided and uninformed. One of the subjects in the course that turned some people off to it was the inclusion of LGBTQ+ history and intersectional feminism. This is another extension of DeSantis’ homophobic laws, following the “Don’t Say Gay” law that restricts discussions about sexual orientation and gender identity in schools.

This is not the first time DeSantis has blocked the teaching of history that many find uncomfortable. He previously signed the “Stop WOKE Act,” which prevents what he called “critical race theory” from being taught in schools and limits the way race issues can be discussed in class. 

DeSantis and those who agree with the ban have latched onto words and phrases such as “woke,” “CRT,” and “political agenda” and use them dog whistles to anger voters, but often steer clear of addressing what the courses actually cover. The new AP class mostly covers the culture, literature, history and social and political movements of African Americans. Critical race theory is too complex to be covered in the class, but the subject of inequality is explored. The ban does not improve the education or lives of anyone in Florida. Instead it is meant to further regress the education system and turn schools into conservative institutions. 

Many students are not given the opportunity to see their history and culture represented in an educational setting. The state of Florida harbors much of Black history itself, and to deny students the right to learn this history is a disservice to them. The rewriting and whitewashing of history is nothing new, and if we cannot accept the truth of our history because it is uncomfortable or because it doesn’t align with our views, then we can never learn from our past. Conservatives like DeSantis don’t want to recognize racism as a systemic issue because they benefit from the system themselves. Recognizing our past faults is not political. Black history should not be politicized, but valued as what it is: an important piece of American history that deserves to be shared with students. Sheltering children from this is hiding the truth from them, and no leader has the constitutional right to withhold education from their people.

There are other courses, books, and information that people would restrict from students if given the opportunity. If we continue to let politicians get away with interfering in schools and restricting knowledge, we could see very harmful consequences. DeSantis is a contender for the 2024 presidential election, and if he or someone like-minded is able to garner enough support, then what changes would be made at a national level? Since January of 2021, 35 states have introduced bills that limit what schools can teach in regards to race, politics, American history, sexual orientation and gender identity. No lawmaker should be allowed to cherry pick what is acceptable to teach based on their own beliefs, truth should always come before comfort in education.