Gov. J.B. Pritzker of Illinois is going to fight with the national College Board over what he calls Gov. Ron DeSantis’s “political grandstanding.” The Chicago Democrat is warning the nonprofit that runs the Advanced Placement programme that Illinois will turn down a revised African American Studies course if it doesn’t include “a factual account of history, including the role played by black queer Americans.”
Pritzker wrote a harsh letter to the board about its decision to change the Advanced Placement course in African American Studies. This was because the governor of Florida, who is likely to run for president as a Republican, stopped high schools in Florida from offering the course because it had parts about “queer theory” and “getting rid of prisons,” among other things.
It’s not clear how the course will be changed or if the changes are a result of Florida’s decision, but the College Board said the new framework would be released on Feb. 1. Pritzker was against making any changes “to fit Florida’s racist and anti-gay laws.”
“In Illinois, we reject any curriculum modifications designed to appease extremists like the Florida Governor and his allies,” Pritzker wrote in the letter obtained by the Sun-Times.
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Pritzker, who is seen as a possible Democratic candidate for president if President Biden doesn’t run again, didn’t like how the Florida Republican limited the teaching of Black history. He told the board that Illinois high schools would turn down any “watered-down” AP class that didn’t teach the country’s “true, if sometimes unpleasant, history.”
Pritzker wrote that Illinois will look closely at any changes to make sure they include “all necessary history, starting with how this country was built on slavery, the Civil War, where this country faced up to that history, and the decades of rebuilding and efforts of black Americans to continue their fight for equality and fairness to this day.”
The governor’s office told the Sun-Times that the curriculum would be thrown out if it didn’t have the “factual” framework Pritzker described in his letter. Officials from the Florida Department of Education said they want content about critical race theory, Black queer studies, and intersectionality to be taken out.
Monday, at a news conference in Jacksonville, Florida, DeSantis said that the curriculum was “a political agenda.”
“That’s the wrong side of the line for Florida standards,” DeSantis said. “We believe in teaching kids facts and how to think, but we don’t believe they should have an agenda imposed on them when you try to use Black history to shoehorn in queer theory, you are clearly trying to use that for political purposes.”
On January 12, the Florida Department of Education sent a letter to the College Board saying that the course is “inexplicably against Florida law and has very little educational value.” This was the start of the war over the curriculum.
“In the future, should College Board be willing to come back to the table with lawful, historically accurate content, FDOE will always be willing to reopen the discussion,” the letter read.
Wednesday, a spokesperson for the department, Alex Lanfranconi, said it was good to hear that the board “expressed a willingness to change” the course.
“AP courses are standardized nationwide, and as a result of Florida’s strong stance against identity politics and indoctrination, students across the country will consequentially have access to an historically accurate, unbiased course,” Lanfranconi said in an emailed statement.
“As Governor DeSantis said, African American History is American History, and we will not allow any organization to use an academic course as a gateway for indoctrination and a political agenda. We look forward to reviewing the College Board’s changes and expect the removal of content on Critical Race Theory, Black Queer Studies, Intersectionality, and other topics that violate our laws.”
Critical race theory can’t be taught in schools in Florida because of a law that was passed in 2021. The “Stop WOKE” Act, which limits how schools and businesses can talk about race, was signed into law by DeSantis last year.
As talk about the 2024 presidential election gets louder, Pritzker has been criticising DeSantis more and more. Pritzker compared DeSantis to former President Donald Trump at a Florida Democratic Party event last year. He said that DeSantis is “really just Donald Trump with a mask on.”
“He’s trying to pass off his covert racism, homophobia and misogyny as a more reasonable form of Trump Republicanism,” Pritzker said in his speech that day
Pritzker last year also condemned DeSantis’ “Parental Rights in Education” bill, which many refer to as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, which prohibits classroom discussion or instruction on sexual orientation and identity in kindergarten to third grades or in older grades in “a manner that is not age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate.”
“We cannot stand idly by as Republican governors wage incessant attacks on the LGBTQ+ community,” Pritzker said in a tweet after the bill became law. “Everyone deserves a state where you can be your authentic self. As long as I’m governor, the state of Illinois will see you, support you, and welcome you with open arms.”
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