TALLAHASSEE — Gov. Ron DeSantis and the College Board are fighting over Florida’s decision to not offer the AP African American studies course. On Monday, DeSantis threatened to pull the organization’s AP classes from high schools in Florida.
“So, nobody chose this College Board to do anything. When asked about the College Board’s statement over the weekend that the Florida Department of Education had slandered it, DeSantis said, “They’re just kind of there and offer this service, and you can use it or not.” “They have been offering these AP courses for a long time, but there are probably other companies that can do the same job just as well or even better.”
He said he talked to House Speaker Paul Renner, R-Palm Coast, about it. “Maybe the Legislature will look at how they’re doing that,” he said.
When high school students pass AP exams, colleges and universities in the state can give them college credit.
The SAT is also made by the College Board. Students in Florida who want to go to college or get a Bright Futures scholarship need either a SAT score or an ACT score, which is a rival test. At the moment, more students in Florida take the SAT.
If AP classes aren’t available, students could try to earn college credit through dual enrollment with state colleges or other programs like AICE and International Baccalaureate, but neither is as common as AP classes.
DeSantis said that he didn’t like how the proposed syllabus for the African American studies class included queer theory, intersectionality, and “other types of neo-marxism.”
Since last month, Florida and the College Board have been fighting in public about the pilot course that is being used this school year.
Sunday, the College Board, which runs the 38-course Advanced Placement (AP) program, said that Florida was spreading “slander” about the African American studies class as part of “their political agenda.”
The group said it was sorry it had not spoken out against the comments made by the Florida education department about the course sooner and more strongly. Last month, the department said that the pilot version of the class “lacks educational value” and includes things like “critical race theory” that are against Florida law and would “brainwash” students.
In a statement, the College Board said, “We deeply regret that we did not immediately denounce the slander from the Florida Department of Education, which was made worse by the comments from the DeSantis administration afterward.” “When we didn’t speak up, we betrayed Black scholars everywhere and the people who worked hard for a long time to make this field so great.”
The College Board also said that Florida officials told them in September that the AP African American studies course was unacceptable, but they wouldn’t tell them why. This is the same claim that the organization made last week after the department released a timeline of contacts with the College Board.
The College Board said that most of these contacts were “transactional,” and no one from the department explained the problems.
The College Board’s statement said that the education department staff asked “uninformed questions” like, “Does the course promote Black Panther thinking?” during a conversation.
Even though Florida said no to the AP course on September 23, no one knew about it until January 12. The next day, the department sent a second letter saying that the course had been rejected because it was “a ‘PR stunt’ that said the course had no ‘educational value,'” according to the College Board.
The College Board said, “We made the mistake of treating FDOE with the respect we always give an education agency, but they used this respect for their own political goals.”
Since former Gov. Jeb Bush was in office, Florida has worked with the College Board and has always encouraged high school students to take AP classes, which try to be like first-year college classes and give students the chance to earn college credit. The state pays exam fees for students and gives bonuses to teachers whose students do well on those tests.
The education department put out a press release two years ago called “Florida Soars on Advanced Placement Performance.” It said that in 2021, Florida would have the most AP students of any state. College Board data show that nearly 364,000 AP tests were taken by high school students in Florida in 2022.
Many students in Florida take AP classes to improve their chances of getting into college. In the college planning guide for the University of Florida, for example, it says that students should “take Honors, AP, IB, AICE, or academic dual-enrollment classes if they are offered.”