“Stop W.O.K.E Act” in Place Under Florida Governor Ron DeSantis

“Left wing bias” is what Governor Ron DeSantis reported to the College Board earlier this month regarding specific topics within the state’s AP African American Studies classes. The state has passed legislation eliminating the class.
Gov. DeSantis’ decision stemmed from his Stop W.O.K.E Act, which aims to “Stop the Wrong to Our Kids and Employees.” According to legislation signed by Gov. DeSantis, it aims to stop any form of Critical Race Theory (CRT) – a social teaching he accused the College Board class of endorsing.

As the bill began to take effect, College Board removed subjects relating to Black Lives Matter, reparations, and queer theory within the AP curriculum course. They claim these changes are unrelated to the new legislature and that the alterations were made in December before the ban was in place. Along with the removal of these significant course units, College Board has taken it a step further and removed several renowned Black authors from the course, associating these writers with Critical Race Theory and Black feminism. As an alternative, College Board is now including “Black Conservatism” as a research project in the curriculum.

Woodgrove’s African American History teacher, Mr.Talboo, stressed the importance of teaching the subject: “African American history is American history.” Mr. Talboo also emphasized its necessity because of how fascinating the history is, saying “it’s an interesting lens, you’re looking at the world in a different way.”

Mr. Talboo standing in front of flags in his classroom. (Maeve Bauer)

The class has been a popular elective among Woodgrove students for three years. “I think the main point to emphasize is that the African American [history] class is for everybody. It’s not a particularly controversial course. It’s just a true telling of the African American experience. Everyone is welcome, whether you are liberal, conservative, not political, whether you’re American, whether you’re foreign, whether you’re African American, or not,” said Mr. Talboo.
Although adults around the country have shared their opinion on the issue, students have an important role in advocating for their education. In a poll, the majority of Woodgrove students disagreed with the removal of the course.
Outrage across the country has led to protests both for and against the class. On January 25th in Philadelphia, led by civil rights lawyer Benjamin Crump, protesters took to chanting their anger outside of a club where Gov. DeSantis visited. Several protests have also been held at the Florida Capitol. Many lawsuits are now being filed against the Florida Board of Education as well as College Board, with Crump stating in The New York Times, “It is not for the state of Florida to declare which viewpoints will be deemed orthodox and which will be forbidden from its university classrooms.”

Protests by outraged students and civil rights activists outside the Florida Capital (Creative Commons)