The Florida Department of Education (DOE) told schools Wednesday that an Advanced Placement (AP) Psychology course at the center of a controversy meets state law and can be taught, according to a letter sent to school districts.
On Aug. 3, the College Board, an academic organization that administers and designs high school courses for college credit, claimed its AP Psychology course had been “effectively banned” because they refused to modify the course to comply with the state’s guidance prohibiting age-inappropriate lessons on gender identity and sexual orientation in Pre-K-12 classrooms.
In a Wednesday letter to Florida school superintendents, the state DOE noted that the course can be taught under its Parental Rights in Education law and that the AP course will be offered during the 2023-2024 school year.
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“It is the Department of Education’s stance that the learning target 6.P ‘Describe how sex and gender influence socialization and other aspects of development,’ within topic 6.7, can be taught consistent with Florida law,” Manny Diaz Jr., the Education Commissioner of Florida, wrote in the letter. “In addition, other college-credit providers such as AICE [Advanced International Certificate of Education] and IB [International Baccalaureate] have confirmed they will be offering the psychology course this school year. Please confirm whether Florida students and their parents may expect you to provide the AP Psychology course that remains in Florida’s course code directory.”
Following the Aug 3. statement from the College Board, the Florida DOE clarified that it had not banned the course and that it was still being offered in the state. In June, the College Board announced that it would not modify its AP Psychology course after being asked by the state to audit and modify courses that violate its Parental Rights in Education law.
Because of the controversy and confusion, several Florida school districts decided to not offer the course, The Hill reported.
“If there was a way we could teach this course and not have our teachers get arrested, we would do it in a second,” Mike Burke, Palm Beach County School superintendent, told the Palm Beach Post, before the district backtracked.
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In January, the Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ administration and the College Board argued over the AP African American Studies course; the Florida DOE originally rejected the course over a lesson on queer theory.
The College Board apologized for removing the topics on queer theory and criticized the Florida government after agreeing to modify the course.
“This clear guidance provides Florida educators, parents and students the certainty they need,” the College Board told the DCNF. “As always, we stand ready to support the AP community, this year and beyond.”
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