You are currently viewing What the Florida controversy over AP psychology tells us about the next higher education battleground

What the Florida controversy over AP psychology tells us about the next higher education battleground

Last week, the Florida legislature”effectively prohibitedAP Psychology in the state’s public schools after the College Board rejected the state government’s request to re-evaluate the course section on sex and sexuality. The move came as teachers, administrators and independent educational organizations struggle to comply House Bell 1557– better known as the Parents’ Rights in Education Act – which limits how and at what age schools can teach students about issues related to sexual orientation or gender identity. Originally introduced in 2022, Gov. Ron DeSantis expanded the bill in July, restricting, among other topics, discussions of reproductive health in middle and high school classrooms.

A move to change or delete AP Psychology from public school course catalogs would have prevented thousands of students from enrolling in one of College Board’s most popular programs. common courses, and was met with widespread backlash.

Justifying their decision not to change the curriculum at the request of the state government, the College Board answered referred to the state’s sweeping actions in a press release, noting: “The American Psychological Association recently reaffirmed that any course that excludes these topics will violate its guidelines and should not be considered for college credit.” On this basis, they stated: “We cannot modify AP psychology in response to regulations that would censor college-level standards of credit, placement, and career readiness.” The organization also indicated that the topics related to gender and sexual orientation included in the school curricula are not a new addition and have been included for more than three decades.

However, despite skirmishes between the state and college board over the AP Psychology curriculum — following on the heels of other high-profile clash About African American Studies – The Florida Commissioner of Education has indicated that the state will not ban the course from public school curriculum offerings. On August 3, Commissioner Manny Diaz wrote a letter To the moderators who stated: “The Department of Education does not discourage districts from teaching AP Psychology. In fact, the department believes that AP Psychology can be taught in an age- and developmentally appropriate manner and the course remains in our course catalog.”

While these legislative wrangles may seem limited to Florida right now, the past few years have seen the state’s education legislation spill over onto the national stage in significant ways–most notably, in discussions about race-informed admission, DEI initiatives, and classroom education about ethnic issues. On many of these issues, Florida has led conservative education policy for Republicans in other state legislatures and at the federal level. In fact, Governor DeSantis He has a pitch state as the “vanguard of liberty,” citing among other policies HB 1557 aims to “provide parents the right to review the curriculum used in their children’s schools” and “a right of recourse until state standards, such as Florida’s prohibition against inculcation of materials with cash race theory in Our classrooms.

Supreme Court ruling on affirmative action – as well as state legislation such as SB 17 in Texas, which follows Florida in banning DEI offices at academic institutions—proves that Florida’s radical education policies have a wide audience and far-reaching consequences for students and educators beyond state borders. If discussions of race in public school curricula provide any indication, the next battleground in America’s higher education system will concern gender identity and sexual orientation.

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