The College Board claps back at DeSantis, calling Florida's reasoning for banning AP African American studies 'slander'

The College Board claps back at DeSantis, calling Florida's reasoning for banning AP African American studies 'slander'
Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida at a news conference in Miami, Fla., on January 26, 2023.AP Photo/Marta Lavandier
  • Gov. Ron DeSantis' administration blocked the teaching of AP African American studies last month.
  • The College Board clapped back on Saturday, defending the course.

The College Board on Saturday clapped back at Gov. Ron DeSantis and the Florida Department of Education.

In a statement, the board discussed the importance of critical conversation around what is taught to students but condemned DeSantis and the Florida Department of Education from deviating from healthy debate. Instead, the College Board said the administration has leaned into spreading misinformation: "We need to clear the air and set the record straight."

The FDOE claimed the proposed AP course was "inexplicably contrary to Florida law" and "significantly lacks educational value," according to ABC News.

The College Board described the AP African American class as a course that "reaches into a variety of fields — literature, the arts and humanities, political science, geography, and science — to explore the vital contributions and experiences of African Americans."

"We deeply regret not immediately denouncing the Florida Department of Education's slander, magnified by the DeSantis administration's subsequent comments, that African American Studies 'lacks educational value,'" the board wrote on Sunday. "Our failure to raise our voice betrayed Black scholars everywhere and those who have long toiled to build this remarkable field."


The College Board maintained that the course framework was just an outline for the pilot course. It also said that they should have been clearer about "contemporary events like the Black Lives Matter movement, reparations, and mass incarceration" being optional components in the course framework. The board wrote that these two actions left their motives up to interpretation.

The organization also slammed the administration for taking credit for changes that the College Board made to the course and said that there have not been any negotiations between the College Board and the FDOE.

"They also claimed that we removed terms like "systemic marginalization" and "intersectionality" at their behest. This is not true. The notion that we needed Florida to enlighten us that these terms are politicized in several states is ridiculous. We took a hard look at these terms because they often are misunderstood, misrepresented, and co-opted as political weapons," the board's statement read.

The course is set to use actual examples of concepts rather than focusing on utilizing specific language and terminology. The organization also highlighted the importance of scholars and educators that are helping to pilot the course.

"The College Board condemns this uninformed caricature of African American Studies and the harm it does to scholars and students," the statement continues. "This new AP course can be historic — what makes history are the lived experiences of millions of African Americans, and the long work of scholars who have built this field. We hope our future efforts will unmistakably and unequivocally honor their work."


The state has aimed to limit the teaching of race and gender through various legislation like the Stop Woke Act, the ban on Critical Race Theory, and the Don't Say Gay Act. Hillsborough County School Board member Jessica Vaughn previously told Insider that Florida has been "slowly eroding traditional public education" and pushing "a lot of far-right politics in education."

"We have made the mistake of treating FDOE with the courtesy we always accord to an education agency, but they have instead exploited this courtesy for their political agenda," the board also said.

DeSantis and FDOE did not immediately respond to Insider's request for comment.