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Florida Rejects New AP African American Studies Course 

by Caitlin Cruser

Photo Courtesy of Ivan Aleksic on Unsplash

In mid-January, Florida rejected an Advanced Placement course covering African American studies, citing its abundance of “Critical Race Theory.” This is following rules adopted by the state’s Board of Education in mid-2021 that limits students’ exposure to race education.

But this limiting of education isn’t new, nor is it exclusive to race.

“Winners write history,” says Dr. Melissa Marks, director of the education program at Pitt-Greensburg and author of “Teaching About Diversity: Activities to Start the Conversation.” 

“The people who are writing history and who want to maintain writing history are the people that have been in power,” Marks says.

This is called Internal Colonialism theory, and Dr. Marks teaches about it in her sociology classes.

“[Florida] is saying ‘well, we don’t want to talk about race. It makes people uncomfortable,” Marks says. “They are saying they don’t want CRT taught to little kids because it makes them feel bad, but what they don’t want is them to read the story of Ruby Bridges. They don’t want them to learn about Civil Rights.”

Ruby Bridges is an American civil rights activist. She was the first African American child to desegregate an all-white school in Louisiana in 1960.

Marks suggests that much of the panic that surrounds Critical Race Theory is misunderstanding.

“Critical Race Theory is a legal perspective,” Marks says. “You learn it in law or graduate school. Very few high schools even touch on it, let alone elementary school. People don’t know what CRT is, they just hear the sound bites that children are being brainwashed.”

Regardless, teachers in Florida must present every book, handout, movie ect. to the school board ahead of time for approval.

“What’s happening in Florida right now is a culture war,” Marks says. “Whose history gets to be taught in schools? Who gets to decide what it means to be American?”

Florida made headlines in 2022 for the infamous “Don’t Say Gay” bill that states public school teachers may not instruct or discuss sexual orientation or gender identity in the classroom.

This isn’t happening only in Florida, though. Last October, a Norwin School Board member called for the removal of a children’s book, “All Are Welcome,” that promotes diversity and inclusion. The book was read in a second-grade classroom.

“This school board member claimed that he had no problem with diversity, but that he didn’t like that the book didn’t differentiate between legal and illegal immigrants,” Marks says. “He also didn’t like the fact that there are pictures of same-sex couples with children.”

Norwin School District contains seven schools and 5,117 students, and is located in Irwin, just under 30 minutes from Pitt-Greensburg’s campus.

1 Comment on Florida Rejects New AP African American Studies Course 

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