A Florida Democratic lawmaker in favor of teaching a controversial AP African American Studies in high schools blasted the state on Monday, arguing that students shouldn’t be shielded from BLM or “black queerness.”
The Florida Department of Education recently informed the board that the course’s content lacked educational value, taking special issue with sections on “Queer Black Studies,” the reparations movement, and “movements for black lives,” among others. But State Sen. Shevrin Jones, a Democrat, suggested to NPR that those topics should be embraced, not shunned.
“Some of the things that they were speaking about in it were talking about the black struggle, it was talking about the Black Lives Matter movement, it spoke about black queerness. … These are not issues that we should be shying away from, or shielding away from students,” said Jones.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who signed legislation last year preventing the state’s government schools from teaching discrimination on the basis of race, color, or sex, detailed a number of his concerns on Monday. Among them is the way the curriculum shoehorns esoteric academic theories into what has been dubbed in legacy media as a history course.
“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. And so, that’s the wrong side of the line for Florida standards,” he said.
The Department of Education said it would reconsider its decision to block the course if the curriculum were changed.
While proponents of teaching African American Studies have argued that the courses encourage holistic thinking about American history, skeptics note that the curricula primarily emphasize narratives of left-wing advocacy and grievance. The College Board’s website suggests that a major in the subject can prepare a student for only one career field, community organizing and activism, even as the organization says a history major can prepare students for a multitude of careers, including anthropology, law, and foreign service.
Currently, the course is taught in several dozen schools as a pilot, according to The College Board, which develops curricula for high school students to receive college credit before they attend university.
The College Board has so far declined to publicly release the African American studies curriculum, asserting that the material contains proprietary information. The course is expected to undergo changes before any nationwide implementation.