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DeSantis Attacks African-American Studies in Florida Schools

In case you had any doubt that Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) was going to go full anti-woke as the centerpiece of his presidential campaign, fear not, he keeps trying to convince everyone. As Maya Angelou put it: "When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time." Or, in the case of Desantis, the second time or the third time or the ... 40th time. Last week, the DeSantis administration informed the College Board that Florida would not accept the new Advanced Placement course in African-American studies. He suggested that such a course would be illegal in Florida although he didn't cite which law it would violate.

Last year, DeSantis signed the "Stop WOKE Act" that makes it illegal for schools to teach anything that would make students feel uncomfortable over historic wrongdoings due to their race, sex, or national origin. It is possible that he envisioned such a course at least mentioning the numerous lynchings of Black people in American history, which might, indeed, make some students uncomfortable. Whether the law is constitutional is another matter. It will take years before this is dumped on John Roberts' plate.

Right on cue, the action has drawn heavy criticism. State Sen. Shevrin Jones (D), Florida's only openly gay state senator, said: "Gov. DeSantis' whitewashing of history and book bans are his latest assault on American history and our First Amendment rights. Horrifyingly, it is our vulnerable and underrepresented students who will suffer the most as a result." Ivory Toldson, the NAACP's director of Education Innovation and Research, said: "Ron DeSantis' flippant dismissal of an AP African-American studies course is not only a dereliction of his duty to ensure equitable education for all Floridians, but shows clear disdain for the lives and experiences that form part of our national history."

Bingo. This is precisely what DeSantis wants, of course. It gives a small bureaucratic action national publicity and shows the base where he stands. DeSantis has picked up many things from the Trump playbook. One of them is making outrageous statements and taking outrageous actions simply to get attention. In DeSantis' case, expect many more, all of them with the sole intention of keeping his base in a state of rage. In reality, of course, DeSantis has no interest whatsoever what is taught in Florida schools. He probably has absolutely no idea what the proposed course would cover. All he knows is that a lot of white people in his base think that teaching anyone African-American studies is a waste of taxpayer money and by opposing this program they see him as their ally. (V)

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