Florida officials tasked with reviewing a new advanced placement The African American Studies course raised several concerns that the curriculum did not offer “opposite viewpoints” or “different perspectives” on slavery before the state rejected the program earlier this year Miami Herald reported Tuesday.
The newspaper obtained copies of internal state documents after the state said in January it would not allow schools to offer the new Advanced Placement course. The state claimed at the time that the pilot program “significantly” lacked educational value and violated Florida law. The decision came amid Gov. Ron DeSantis (R)’s ongoing efforts to target the so-called “woke” culture, including Passing of the “Stop WOKE Act” Last summer, teaching about systemic inequality was to be curtailed.
However, the documents appear to show an attempt to whitewash the country’s history of slavery. In one lesson, the AP curriculum focuses on how enslaved Africans were removed from the continent and placed on plantations in Portuguese colonies that later became “a model for the slave-based economy in America.”
State reviewers said they were concerned that the lesson “may not address the internal slave trade/slave system in Africa” and “may only represent one side of this issue”. In a separate lesson looking at how Europeans benefited from the slave trade, state reviewers claimed that the curriculum “could lead to an ‘oppressor vs. oppressed’ view based solely on race or ethnicity.”
In another case, a reviewer said that an abolitionist unit that worked to free slaves was “not factually comprehensive or balanced.” The syllabus, the reviewer said, would be more accurate if the word ‘ownership’ was used instead of ‘slavery’.
The documents noted that reviewers often said the course should include perspectives “from the other side,” but did not add details of which perspectives they meant.
The Herald notes that one of the reviewers was associated with conservative groups, including the Civics Alliance, which are trying to ban “awakened” standards from the curriculum. Many of the comments in the document have not been attributed to specific individuals.
DeSantis, who is running for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, has taken care to make critical race theory and LGBTQ+ rights a core part of his campaign. He has has silenced this strategy in recent weeks, but his campaign has gained momentum across the country.
The college board told the Miami Herald that it didn’t fully understand the criticism of the course because Florida officials didn’t share the full results of their review. Still, earlier this year the group faced criticism from scholars who accused the panel of omitting important teaching points under political pressure from the DeSantis administration. Board officials admitted they had tried to coordinate with the governor’s team to make the program accessible to as many students as possible, but later said they would revise the course to better reflect “this dynamic discipline.” .
“In embarking on this effort, our driving principle was access – both access to a discipline hitherto not widely available to high school seniors, and access to as many of those high school students as possible,” the college board wrote in April. “Unfortunately, over time, these goals of dual access have conflicted.”
The organization plans to submit the final version of the AP course for approval in November, but it’s unclear if Florida laws will allow the course to be held.
“We definitely hope Florida students have the opportunity to take this course,” Holly Stepp, a college board spokeswoman, told the Herald this week.