‘They’re Advocating For Things Like Abolishing Prisons’: DeSantis Discusses Why He Banned African American Studies Course

Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis discussed his reasons for barring public high schools in the state from offering the AP African American Studies course presently in development by the College Board.

The Florida Department of Education recently informed the board that the course’s content is “inexplicably contrary to Florida law and significantly lacks educational value,” adding that the state would reconsider the course should the organization make the material “lawful” and “historically accurate.” 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 with the course in a press conference.

“They’re advocating things like abolishing prisons. Now that’s a radical political position,” he told reporters. “You’re free to take that in your own life, I don’t think very many people think that would actually work, but how is that being taught as fact?”

DeSantis believes radical left-wing content in the AP African American Studies curriculum, which is currently undergoing pilots at five dozen schools across the nation, stands blatantly at odds with the policies preferred by racial minorities.

“It’s not fair to say that somehow abolishing prisons is linked to black experiences, that that’s what black people want,” he continued. “I think they want law and order, just like anybody else wants law and order. So that is more ideology being used under the guise of history, and we want to do history.”

Approximately 28% of black people support defunding the police, according to a poll from USA Today and Ipsos, while 18% of the overall population said the same. Another survey from the University of Massachusetts Amherst found that some of the steepest declines in affirmation of the Black Lives Matter movement in recent months came from black respondents.

DeSantis added that he does not view black history as inherently distinct from the overall history of the nation.

“That’s what our standards for black history are: it’s just cut-and-dry history. You learn all the basics, you learn about the great figures,” he remarked. “I view it as American history. I don’t view it as separate history.”

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.

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.

Efforts to remove politicized content from government schools in Florida continue after DeSantis launched an overhaul in the state university system’s use of diversity initiatives. The chief executive asked the postsecondary institutions to provide the state legislature with a brief description of each diversity program, the total funding used to support the program, and the portion of the funding that came from taxpayer dollars.

“We must ensure school systems are responsive to parents and to students, not partisan interest groups, and we must ensure that our institutions of higher learning are focused on academic excellence and the pursuit of truth, not the imposition of trendy ideology,” DeSantis remarked during his second inaugural address. “We will enact more family-friendly policies to make it easier to raise children and we will defend our children against those who seek to rob them of their innocence.”

Eric Quintanar contributed to this report.

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