Fired Up: Waging war against education


photo by Caitlyn Hale

Fired Up is a monthly column by Lifestyles Editor Sophia Canabal.

A year after Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis passed the Stop W.O.K.E. Act, prohibiting teachers from discussing topics like race and gender in the classroom, he is waging war against education again, but this time against College Board, declaring that African American history “lacks educational value.”  

After a decade of development, the College Board made AP African American Studies available nationwide, only for the course to be rejected by DeSantis on Jan. 12. The course would have covered both cultural and historical aspects of African American communities, but according to DeSantis, something about it screams “indoctrination.” The board of education may have the power to ban the AP course, but they do not have the right to deem black history as unworthy for American classrooms.

Any topic that even approaches diversity, culture and inclusivity has already been labeled by DeSantis as a form of “liberal indoctrination.” From scolding workplace equity to banning “racially motivated” math textbooks, the Republican governor has expanded what it means to be liberal for the GOP by tenfold. If every class were to follow his definition of indoctrination, science classes would not teach the scientific method.

Protecting the minds of American children should not mean hindering their ability to question the world around them. As a parent himself, DeSantis should want that for his child as much as any other parent would.  

DeSantis’ recent purges on public school curriculum have made one thing clear: controversy does not belong in the classroom. During a press conference on Jan. 26, the governor revealed that he banned the course because it encouraged the abolishment of the prison system and mentioned “queer theory.” After these terms were removed from the course’s official framework, they won’t ease the tension between DeSantis and the College Board.

Florida’s board of education insists on painting every classroom red and blue, and any topic they find uncomfortable falls under liberal indoctrination.

— Sophia Canabal

A single chapter on LGBTQ black communities might be enough to get the governor shaking in his boots, but it doesn’t mean the topic “lacks educational value.” Florida’s board of education insists on painting every classroom red and blue, and any topic they find uncomfortable falls under liberal indoctrination. Politicizing every aspect of the classroom politicizes students’ identities. If learning about the civil rights movement lacks educational value, does he think the same is true for civil rights today? If African American studies are controversial, are African Americans?

When DeSantis first revealed the Stop W.O.K.E. Act, forever changing the way educators addressed diversity in the classroom, he quoted Martin Luther King Jr.: “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” Yet, every time he is faced with an opportunity to make that dream possible, DeSantis demonizes diversity, alienating the African American students who, for the first time, could envision a classroom that does not shy away from the truth of their ancestors’ history.