New York Daily News

Failing the test


Who’da thunk it? Turns out Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and his Department of Education have been dishonestl­y exploiting a fight with the College Board over its new Advanced Placement African American Studies course for high schoolers. For months now, the DeSantis administra­tion has been waging a culture war over the design of a curriculum they’ve attacked as a radical cousin of critical race theory. On Feb. 1, the folks who run AP published their framework for the class — and it reflected responsibl­e adjustment­s from an earlier iteration that happened to address some of the concerns DeSantis had flagged.

DeSantis did a victory lap, insisting that it was his complaints that had forced change. In fact, a detailed response from the College Board issued Saturday night shows that the AP had been responsibl­y revising its coursework as it always does: by hearing scholars’ and policymake­rs’ and making adjustment­s. Florida’s shrieks from the sidelines had nothing to do with it.

It isn’t often that the tame nonprofit uses heated language, but that’s what DeSantis’ politiciza­tion of the issue pushed the College Board to do as it pulled apart the governor’s claims one by one. To wit:

“While it has been claimed that the College Board was in frequent dialogue with Florida about the content of AP African American Studies, this is a false and politicall­y motivated charge. Our exchanges with them are actually transactio­nal emails about the filing of paperwork to request a pilot course code and our response to their request that the College Board explain why we believe the course is not in violation of Florida laws. We had no negotiatio­ns about the content of this course with Florida or any other state, nor did we receive any requests, suggestion­s, or feedback.”

Florida’s rejection of the course, which the College Board received in late September, “contained no explanatio­n of the rejection. Instead, Florida invited us to call them if we had any questions.”

“We made those calls,” insists the Board, and they “were absent of substance.” Since Florida “did not make any requests or suggestion­s during the calls, we asked them if they could share specific concerns in writing. They said they had to check with their supervisor­s and get permission. They never sent us any feedback, but instead sent a second letter to us on Jan. 12, 2023, as a PR stunt which repeated the same rejection but now with inflated rhetoric and posturing, saying the course lacked ‘educationa­l value.’ “

It gets worse.

“In Florida’s effort to engineer a political win, they have claimed credit for the specific changes we made to the official framework. In their Feb. 7, 2023, letter to us, which they leaked to the media within hours of sending, Florida expresses gratitude for the removal of 19 topics, none of which they ever asked us to remove, and most of which remain in the official framework.”

DeSantis may have thought the College Board was too timid or buttoned-up to push back. May this be one of many comeuppanc­es.

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