The College Board has now released a letter going after Gov. Ron DeSantis for what they call a “PR stunt” in attacking and at least tentatively refusing to participate in the College Board’s new African-American Studies AP course. The following isn’t a defense of the College Board, which deserves a lot more scrutiny than it gets on topics entirely separate from this course. It’s also not a defense of the curriculum itself. But a mix of speculation and hints lead me to think that this was likely a set up on DeSantis’s part.
Specifically, I suspect that DeSantis knew that these changes were coming and jumped in front of the announcement, knowing that he could then take credit for getting the Board to de-wokenize its offering in the face of DeSantis’s iron will.
One fact that points in this direction was the sheer speed with which the Board was able to react. Changing a curriculum doesn’t happen in a day or two or even a week or two. That’s just not how these often lumbering and committee-based operations work. You can also find commentary and reporting from DeSantis allies over the last year which strongly suggests that DeSantis and his team were privy to the Board’s ongoing decision-making about the character and content of the course offering. Indeed, we know specifically that Florida education officials were, as one would expect. There’s nothing terribly wrong with any of that. This isn’t top secret, classified information. It makes sense for there to be ongoing consultations with the educational stakeholders.
Again, I cannot prove this. It just fits as the most plausible global explanation. DeSantis got to pose as a tough guy and ingratiate himself with GOP base voters. He also spurred backlash from the various communities and interest groups GOP base voters like to see their leaders punish and antagonize. It was a win-win for him.