Here we go again. When Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed the Stop WOKE Act into law last year, folks on the Left had a collective conniption. Progressive politicians and members of the chattering class shrieked like banshees about how he was trying to ban Black history from schools. They accused him of trying to whitewash the atrocious parts of American history, especially its treatment of Black Americans.
Now, they are once again reaching for their pearl necklaces after reports revealed that Florida’s Department of Education’s Office (FDOE) of Articulation sent a letter to the College Board explaining that its new Advanced Placement course for high school students on African American studies is “inexplicably contrary to Florida law and significantly lacks educational value.”
“In the future, should College Board be willing to come back to the table with lawful, historically accurate content, FDOE will always be willing to reopen the discussion,” the letter said.
The College Board is the nonprofit organization that handles AP coursework and runs the SAT test and AP program. Last year, it launched a pilot of an AP African-American Studies (APAAS) course. It is being offered in 60 schools nationwide during the 2022-2023 school year. The goal was to offer the course in all schools in the 2024-2025 school year.
But if DeSantis has his way, it will be taught in no schools in Florida. The DeSantis administration has taken the position that the curriculum violates the Stop WOKE Act, which prohibits the teaching of ideas inspired by critical race theory (CRT) in K-12 classrooms
It’s important to note that the College Board has been quite secretive over the content of the course, refusing to release the APAAS curriculum or the names of the 60 schools in which it is being offered, as Stanley Kurtz over at The National Review reported. Kurtz, who was the first to report on the course being rejected by Florida, managed to obtain a copy. That copy revealed a course with a decidedly socialist political bent; it promotes the overthrowing of capitalism.
“The topic descriptions sound neutral, but the readings almost uniformly consist of neo-Marxist agitation—pleas for a socialist transformation of America, inspired by African Americans and infused with their cultural style,” Kurtz writes.
Indeed, the coursework was written by a number of prominent Black socialists, so this is not surprising. If features writings by Kimberlé Crenshaw and Patricia Hill Collins, noted proponents of critical race theory, which would not be a problem if the course also provided viewpoints from a classical liberal perspective. But it does not.
The one-sided approach makes it clear that this is more about political indoctrination than teaching factual history.
Yet high-profile Leftists are haranguing DeSantis over this development, claiming he wants to somehow erase Black history. Florida State Sen. Shevrin Jones, pointed out on Twitter that the Sunshine State offers other cultural AP courses and slammed the governor over the decision.
“This political extremism and its attack of Black History and Black people, is going to create an entire generation of Black children who won’t be able to see themselves reflected at all within their own education or in their own state,” she wrote.
In a piece for Rolling Stone, author Nikki McCann Ramirez argued that DeSantis has “centered his administration around governance through culture war grievances” and is “reshaping Florida education in the image of the far right.”
Ramirez is not wrong about DeSantis focusing on the culture war to push his agenda. But the notion that he is attacking Black history and trying to push “far right” education in Florida through the Stop WOKE Act is absurd on its face.
Most of the people lambasting the governor and Florida Republicans over the Stop WOKE Act fall into two categories: Those who haven’t read the law, and those who have read it, but are lying about it. The text of the legislation actually mandates the teaching of “[t]he history of African Americans,” which includes the “development of slavery, the passage to America, the enslavement experience, abolition, and the history and contributions of African Americans of the African diaspora.”
Indeed, this is only a sliver of the teachings on Black history required under the Stop WOKE Act. This is not to say that the legislation does not have any issues. The law also applies to private businesses and universities, meaning that DeSantis is essentially using the state to dictate what private institutions are discussing with employees and college students. From where I sit, this is an example of overreach.
Nevertheless, while the application of the Stop WOKE Act has its problems, the notion that it is intended to somehow erase Black history is easily disprovable.
Jeff Charles is the host of “A Fresh Perspective” podcast and a contributor for RedState and Liberty Nation.
The views in this article are the writer’s own.