Gov. Ron DeSantis is defending the Florida Department of Education's move to block an Advanced Placement (AP) African American Studies course, which officials said "lacks educational value."
During a press conference on Monday (January 23), DeSantis suggested the AP African American studies course had a political agenda following its rejection by the DOE, per CBS Miami.
"We believe in teaching kids facts and how to think, but we don't believe they should have an agenda imposed on them. When you try to use Black history to shoehorn in queer theory, you are clearly trying to use that for political purposes," DeSantis said.
"As submitted, the course is a vehicle for a political agenda and leaves large, ambiguous gaps that can be filled with additional ideological material, which we will not allow," DeSantis press secretary Bryan Griffin added.
The governor's remarks come after the DOE's office sent a letter earlier this month informing College Board officials that they would not move forward with implementing the AP African American Studies course in Florida public high schools. The department published a list of "concerns found within" the course last week, honing in on five of its topics including "Intersectionality and Activism," "Black Queer Studies," "Movements for Black Lives," "The Reparations Movement," and "Black Study and Black Struggle in the 21st Century."
"Intersectionality is foundational to CRT (critical race theory), and ranks people based on their race, wealth, gender and sexual orientation," one of the listed concerns read.
Florida's DOE said it was concerned about curriculum involving the reparations movement because all "points and resources in this study advocate for reparations."
"There is no critical perspective or balancing opinion in this lesson," the department said.
The department also addressed concerns about several authors included in the required reading for the course.
The rejection of the course has garnered widespread criticism from Democrats and Black leaders, who are pledging to "fight like hell" against the DOE's decision.
"It is incomprehensible to see ... this ban, or this block, to be more specific, that DeSantis has put forward. If you think about the study of Black Americans, that is what he wants to block," Karine Jean-Pierre, White House Press Secretary, said during a press briefing.
In a statement on Monday, the NAACP said it was "outraged" by the department's "'whitesplaining' of Black history and culture."
Black lawmakers, religious leaders, and local elected officials are working on organizing events to speak out against the AP course's blocking, CBS Miami reports.
"We welcome a conversation and dialogue with the governor if he is amenable to that. If not, we will fight like hell to make sure that African American history continues to be a part of American history," Tallahassee City Commissioner Curtis Richardson said.