Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on Monday defended his state’s rejection of an Advanced Placement course on African-American studies recommended by the College Board after the White House called the decision 'incomprehensible.'
DeSantis said Monday that the course at question was eliminated because it teaches controversial topics outside African-American history, such as 'queer theory' and abolishing prisons.
'In the state of Florida, our education standards not only don’t prevent, but they require teaching black history, all of the important things, that’s part of our core curriculum,' DeSantis said. 'This course on Black history. What are one of, what’s one of the lessons about? Queer theory? Now who would say that an important part of Black history is queer theory? That is somebody pushing an agenda on our kids, and so when you look to see they have stuff about intersectionality, abolishing prisons, that’s a political agenda.'
DeSantis’ comments came during an education press conference Monday in which he said the decision to remove the course from high schools shields students from lesson plans that the Florida Department of Education said accepts critical race theory concepts. The Florida Department of Education also determined that the course 'significantly lacks educational value.'
'Despite the lies from the Biden White House, Florida rejected an AP course filled with Critical Race Theory and other obvious violations of Florida law,' said Manny Diaz Jr., Florida’s education commissioner, in a statement last week. 'We proudly require the teaching of African American history. We do not accept woke indoctrination masquerading as education.'
Last week, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre criticized Florida's decision to eliminate the course and accused DeSantis of trying to remove all lesson plans dealing with Black history.
'It is incomprehensible to see that this is what this ban — or this block, to be more specific — that DeSantis has put forward,' Jean-Pierre said. 'If you think about the study of Black Americans, that is what he wants to block and, again, these types of actions aren’t new, especially from what we’re seeing from Florida, sadly.'
Black politicians and religious leaders in Florida have rallied against the DeSantis administration’s removal of the course, which they claim is beneficial and appropriate for high school students. A march at the Florida capitol in Tallahassee is planned for February to rally against the decision. A removal of the course, critics argue, erases history.
'Florida currently bans teachers from talking about who they are and who they love, as we’ve talked about many times in this briefing room,' Jean-Pierre said Friday. 'They have banned more books in schools and libraries than almost every other state in the country.'
The Florida Department of Education has said that African-American history is still included in its education plans.