In a recent development, the state of Florida has found itself embroiled in a contentious debate over the curriculum of its Advanced Placement (AP) psychology course.
The Controversial Law
The controversy began with the enactment of Florida’s ‘Don’t Say Gay’ law in March 2022.
Signed into law by Governor Ron DeSantis, the legislation prohibits public school teachers from engaging in conversations about sexual orientation and gender identity in their classrooms.
The Law Was Expanded
Although initially targeting primary-grade levels, the law was expanded in April to encompass all grades, following the governor’s request.
Ensuring the Law Was Followed
Against this backdrop, the College Board overseeing standardized tests like the SAT was asked to ensure that its AP courses, including AP Psychology, adhered to the state’s regulations.
Specifically, the College Board was asked to sign an ‘assurance document’ attesting to compliance with Florida’s laws and rules.
The College Board Refused
In a noteworthy turn of events, the College Board declined to sign the ‘assurance document,’ expressing concerns that it would necessitate the omission of discussions on sexual orientation and gender identity from the curriculum.
AP Psychology Was Forced to Drop
Accordingly, the College Board advised school districts in Florida not to incorporate AP psychology into their schedules for the upcoming academic year.
Students Had No Course to Enroll
This decision left multiple school districts grappling with the challenge of replacing the popular course and supporting students who had intended to enroll.
Florida Had Great Rates
In 2021, Florida boasted the highest AP participation rate in the nation and ranked second in terms of the percentage of high school seniors who successfully passed at least one AP exam.
The Political Agenda
The controversy extends beyond the removal of AP psychology from the curriculum.
Earlier this year, Florida banned AP African American Studies, citing concerns that the course could be manipulated to promote a specific political agenda.
This Was Detrimental to Students
Anna Eskamani, a Democrat representing Orlando, decried the state’s stance as politically motivated and detrimental to students.
Eskamani said, “As someone who graduated from Florida public schools with college credit via AP classes, I know how powerful and effective these classes are and I am sick to my stomach to see what Governor Ron DeSantis and the Republican Party are doing in our state.”
Randi Weingarten, head of the American Federation of Teachers, one of the largest teachers’ unions in the nation, echoed similar sentiments, condemning the state’s actions.
A Global Embarrassment
Weingarten said, “Sadly, it’s all part of the DeSantis playbook of eroding rights, censoring those he disagrees with, and undermining access to knowledge.”
A National Pariah
She added, “It’s an unconscionable but far-from-surprising move from an extremist and increasingly unpopular leader who is fast becoming both a national pariah and a global embarrassment.”
Twitter Users Expressed Their Views
Several social media users shared their thoughts on the incident.
One Twitter user wrote, “Maybe that should be removed from the class.”
Another user added, “He is making Florida his own dystopian society. This is literally so scary that he feels he can ignore science and limit what students can learn.”
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