The NAACP Director of Education Innovation and Research Ivory Toldson condemns Gov. DeSantis' Decision to reject AP course on African American studies
Ron DeSantis' flippant dismissal of an AP African American Studies course is not only a dereliction of his duty to ensure equitable education for all Floridians, but shows clear disdain for the lives and experiences that form part of our national history. Dismissing this important subject as lacking "educational value" defies centuries of evidence to the contrary. African American history is American history, and failure to comprehend this very simple fact is un-American in and of itself.
This decision is even harder to accept when we consider Florida's dismal record when addressing education equity for Black students. As data from the U.S. Department of Education Civil Rights Data Collection reveals, every single district in Florida with more than 100,000 students has grave inequities faced by Black students; including lack of access to advanced classes and disproportionate punishments compared to White counterparts.
ProPublica findings show that Black students comprise 23% of the public school population in Florida - yet are only 10% of those enrolled in gifted and talented programs. White students are 2.2 times more likely to be enrolled in at least one AP class when compared to Black students. In Broward County Public Schools – which has the highest number of Black Students in Florida - fewer than 4,400 out of 105,000 are taking at least one AP class. Florida schools are also enacting practices that punish this same population more severely than any other. The data reveals that Black students are 2.4 times more likely to be suspended than White students. This lack of commitment from Gov DeSantis' administration to prioritize educational equity for these young people is unacceptable and must be addressed urgently if we are going to see real progress toward ensuring all children have equal opportunities in education.
We cannot allow our children's futures to be hamstrung because of systemic racism and inequality; not only when it comes to AP African American Studies but also for all other learning opportunities. All students must be given equal opportunity no matter their skin color or socioeconomic status so that they can achieve their dreams and reach higher levels of academic success. Gov DeSantis' administration should take immediate steps towards rectifying this injustice and ensure that all students receive the same quality education they deserve.
Founded in 1909 in response to the ongoing violence against Black people around the country, the NAACP is the largest and most pre-eminent civil rights organization in the nation. We have over 2,200 units and branches across the nation, along with well over 2M activists. Our mission is to secure the political, educational, social, and economic equality of rights in order to eliminate race-based discrimination and ensure the health and well-being of all persons.