Pritzker Clashes With DeSantis Over AP African American Studies Course

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Alexa Schwerha Contributor
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Democratic Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker told the College Board on Wednesday that he would not approve a proposed AP African American Studies course if it revised its syllabus to address any concerns from Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.

The Florida Department of Education (DOE) rejected a proposal to include AP African American Studies in public high schools because of concern that the course’s framework, which included tenets of Critical Race Theory (CRT), intersectionality and queer theory, violated state law. Pritzker, however, warned the College Board, which created the advanced placement classes, that he would not approve the course if it made changes to comply with Florida’s standards, according to his Wednesday letter. (RELATED: George Floyd’s Attorney Threatens To Sue Ron DeSantis Over Rejected AP African American Studies Course)

I urge you to maintain your reputation as an academic institution dedicated to the advancement of students and refuse to bow to political pressure that would ask you to rewrite our nation’s true, if sometimes unpleasant, history,” Pritzker wrote in a letter to the College Board. “One Governor should not have the power to dictate the facts of U.S. history. In Illinois, we reject any curriculum modifications designed to appease extremists like the Florida Governor and his allies.”

The Florida DOE took issue with several sections taught in the course including “Intersectionality and Activism,” “Black Queer Studies,” “Movement for Black Lives,” “Black Feminist Literary Thought,” “The Reparations Movement” and “Black Study and Black Struggle in the 21st Century.” It said the course lacked “educational value and historical accuracy.”

The College Board announced on Tuesday that it would release a newly updated framework for the course on Feb. 1. The Florida DOE, which was widely criticized by top Democrats for rejecting the course, said it would reconsider the course if it was proposed with content that is “lawful [and] historically accurate.”

Pritzker, however, wrote in his letter to the College Board he was concerned DeSantis was “pressuring” the organization to comply with “racist and homophobic laws.”

Illinois expects any AP course offered on African American Studies to include a factual accounting of history, including the role played by black queer Americans,” Pritzker wrote. “Illinois will closely examine the official coursework to ensure it includes all necessary history, starting with this nation’s foundation built on slavery, the Civil War where this nation reckoned with that history and the decades of rebuilding and efforts of black Americans to continue their fight for equality and equity to this day.”

Pritzker wrote that many students who enroll in the class will “encounter racism on a personal and systemic level long before they reach high school and take their first AP class” and that it may be the first time students see “their own faces and experiences” taught in a history course.

“If we refuse to teach our next generation honestly we are bound to repeat old cycles and reopen old wounds fueling the animus that Governor DeSantis uses to score attention and divisive headlines,” Pritzker wrote.

Pritzker, the College Board and the Florida DOE did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.

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