Gov. DeSantis threatens to remove AP classes


Tribune News Service

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks to a crowd at the Knights of Columbus in Elmhurst, Illinois, on Feb. 20, 2023. Photo permission from Chris Sweda/Chicago Tribune/TNS.

Kevin Hamm, Writer

Following his rejection of the Advanced Placement African American History course a month into his second term, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is now targeting AP classes as a whole, along with the SAT. 

After the Florida Department of Education blocked the implementation of an early version of an AP African American History course for being “indoctrination,” the College Board accused the state department and DeSantis of slander and of taking course material out of context. 

“Who elected them? Are there other people that provide services? Turns out there are,” DeSantis said at a press conference Feb. 14.

 The governor provided the International Baccalaureate as an example of an alternative educational institution to the College Board’s AP classes for Florida. 

The International Baccalaureate, otherwise known as the IB Program, offers similar classes as College Board along with career and technical courses as well. The IB Program also offers a Diploma Programme, which gives high school students in their sophomore year at least a set course track to follow to obtain an IB Diploma which is equivalent to 30 college credits toward their bachelor’s degree. 

Teachers and students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School worry that the governor’s attempts to undermine or completely remove AP classes will restrict educational opportunities for students and put them at a disadvantage when it comes to applying for college, especially out of state. 

“I think it’s ridiculous and petty that he’s thinking about banning AP classes and the SAT; such a move would seriously harm our students and make our schools less competitive nationwide. It would also hurt teachers who primarily teach AP classes and who tutor students for the SAT and AP classes on the weekends,” AP Government teacher Jeff Foster said. “This move will probably hurt him because he’s alienating a lot of young voters and moderates; it really speaks to his character and it’s alarming because it shows how many politicians now throw a tantrum now when something doesn’t go their way.” 

The SAT has been another target for the Florida government since it is also administered by College Board; DeSantis has not specifically mentioned any reforms or alternatives to the SAT in Florida but has made vague statements about finding a “classical and Christian” alternative and has spoken to House Speaker Paul Renner about possible reforms since Florida law requires that public universities require the SAT as a requirement for admission. 

DeSantis defended his attempt to go after AP Classes and the SAT as upholding educational integrity and quality within Florida and defending students from what he sees as “woke” ideology and indoctrination within the public education system. Democrats accuse the governor of being politically motivated and of pushing his ideology onto students to censor what they can learn and think, especially on subjects such as black history and LGBTQ+ studies. 

“AP is something that is standardized across the country so without it, I fear that the rest of the nation would view Florida’s quality of education as either inaccurate or inferior,” senior Saumil Amradkar said. “Removing AP classes would obviously take away students’ abilities to expand their range of learning, putting us at a disadvantage. I wouldn’t vote for someone who is trying to remove Florida’s education system from the rest of the country.” 

Given the Republican control of the Florida State Legislature, parents, teachers and students will be paying close attention to any possible changes to the AP classes and the SAT in Florida as the legislative session begins in March.