The White House on Friday called it “incomprehensible” for Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) to block a new Advanced Placement (AP) course for high school students on African American studies.
“It is incomprehensible to see … this ban or this block, to be more specific, that DeSantis has put forward,” press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters, noting the Biden administration does not play a role in dictating school curriculums.
Jean-Pierre called the decision by DeSantis’s administration unsurprising, however, given some of the other actions the governor has taken on education in recent years.
“They have banned more books in schools and libraries than almost every other state in the country. And let’s not forget, they didn’t block AP European history, they didn’t block music history or art history, but the state chooses to block a course that is meant for high-achieving high school students to learn about their history of arts and culture,” she said.
The White House previously sparred with DeSantis over legislation that prohibits teachers of young children from discussing gender or sexuality in the classroom.
In rejecting AP African American Studies, the Florida Department of Education wrote in a letter to the College Board Florida Partnership that “the content of this course is inexplicably contrary to Florida law and significantly lacks educational value.”
The letter, signed by the department’s Office of Articulation, did not name which law the course violated or what part of the curriculum it was objecting to.
Florida has banned schools from teaching “critical race theory,” which aims to understand systemic racism in the United States. Most experts on the subject have said it is not taught in elementary or high schools, but opposition to the concept has become a rallying cry for Republicans.
Last year, DeSantis signed legislation called the Stop WOKE Act, which restricted how racism can be taught in schools. The law, which stands for Stop Wrongs to Our Kids and Employees, prohibits any instruction that could make someone feel “personal responsibility” for historic wrongdoings because of their race, sex or national origin.