Looks like DeSantis is going after the century-old College Board, known for AP classes, SATs

By: - February 13, 2023 2:27 pm

Classroom. Credit: Getty Images

In an escalating battle over Advanced Placement courses, Gov. Ron DeSantis told reporters Monday that he has talked to House Speaker Paul Renner about reevaluating whether to continue AP classes in Florida’s public high schools.

That could mean anything from doing away with the AP classes altogether in those high schools or putting other limitations on courses that could become controversial.

The remarks came during a press conference at Florida SouthWestern State College in Collier County, where DeSantis was discussing investment policies but took a question about a contentious AP African American studies course that has garnered nationwide attention.

Senate President Kathleen Passidomo was at the press conference but DeSantis did not refer to her related to the AP situation.

“So I’ve already talked with Paul (Renner) and I think the Legislature is going to look to reevaluate kind of how Florida’s doing that,” DeSantis said. Florida’s two-month legislative session begins March 7.

The College Board, which goes back to about the year 1900, is a nationwide nonprofit that produces Advanced Placement courses for high school students to earn college credits early. The College Board also is known for its SAT college entrance exam.

“So this College Board – like, nobody elected them to anything. They’re just kind of there, and they’re providing a service,” DeSantis said at the Monday press conference.

“And so you can either utilize those services or not, and so they’ve provided these AP courses for a long time. But, you know, there’s probably some other vendors who may be able to do that job as good, or maybe even a lot better,” DeSantis said.

“Of course, our universities can or can’t accept College Board courses for credit. Maybe they’ll do others. And then also, just whether our universities do the SAT versus the ACT,”  DeSantis said.

In Florida, some students take the ACT or the College Board-administered SAT as a requirement to earn a scholarship called Florida Bright Futures, which allows high school students to have most or all of their college tuition covered if they reach certain academic achievements.

It is not clear how Florida’s Bright Futures Scholarships might be affected if Florida cuts ties with the College Board. DeSantis did not provide specifics on what may come of the future “reevaluation” of the College Board’s relationship with Florida’s K-12 and higher education system.

“We’re going to evaluate kind of how all that process goes, but at the end of the day we highlighted things that were very problematic,” DeSantis said.

The rift between the DeSantis administration and the College Board started over African American studies. Florida law requires the history of African Americans in K-12 public schools.

On Jan. 12, the Board of Education sent a letter to the nonprofit College Board to notify that the state would not be implementing a pilot program for Advanced Placement African American studies for high school students to earn college credit.

“As presented, the content of this course is inexplicably contrary to Florida law and significantly lacks educational value,” the Jan. 12 letter said.

The rejection of the pilot AP course has led to a nationwide outcry, with Florida’s Legislative Black Caucus calling the move a “purposeful erasure of Black history, people, and culture,” the Phoenix previously reported.

Civil rights lawyer Ben Crump has also threatened legal action over the rejected course.

On Feb. 1, the College Board updated the framework for the program.

Just Saturday, the College Board posted a lengthy statement denouncing the Department’s rejection of the African American course.

“We deeply regret not immediately denouncing the Florida Department of Education’s slander, magnified by the DeSantis administration’s subsequent comments, that African American Studies ‘lacks educational value.’ Our failure to raise our voice betrayed Black scholars everywhere and those who have long toiled to build this remarkable field,” the College Board’s statement says in part.

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Danielle J. Brown
Danielle J. Brown

Danielle J. Brown is a 2018 graduate of Florida State University. She has served as an editorial intern for International Program’s annual magazine and Rowland Publishing. She was born and raised in Tallahassee and reviews community theater productions for the Tallahassee Democrat.