The College Board Strikes Back At DeSantis For African American Studies ‘Slander’

MIAMI, FLORIDA - MAY 17: Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks during a press conference at the University of Miami Health System Don Soffer Clinical Research Center on May 17, 2022 in Miami, Florida. The governor held th... MIAMI, FLORIDA - MAY 17: Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks during a press conference at the University of Miami Health System Don Soffer Clinical Research Center on May 17, 2022 in Miami, Florida. The governor held the press conference to announce that the state of Florida would be providing $100 million for Florida's cancer research centers, after he signs the state budget into law. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images) MORE LESS
Start your day with TPM.
Sign up for the Morning Memo newsletter

The College Board hit back at Governor Ron DeSantis (R-FL) on Saturday for rejecting their pilot Advanced Placement African American Studies course – and using his public rejection for political gain. DeSantis has since said he will “re-evaluate” the state’s relationship with the nonprofit.

In an open letter published over the weekend, the educational nonprofit characterized the DeSantis administration’s vocal rejection of the course as a “PR stunt” used to further the governor’s agenda. The organization also expressed regret over not addressing DeSantis’ attacks sooner.

“We deeply regret not immediately denouncing the Florida Department of Education’s slander, magnified by the DeSantis administration’s subsequent comments, that African American Studies ‘lacks educational value,’” they wrote.

The organization said that their “failure” to speak out “betrayed Black scholars everywhere.”

“We are proud of this course,” the letter said. “But we have made mistakes in the rollout that are being exploited.”

The College Board also addressed criticism that arose after they released the final version of the course on Feb. 1. Specifically, they denied accusations that they stripped down the course’s political content to appease lawmakers. Activists and educators condemned the Board for replacing material related to the modern social justice issues with a suggestion towards Black conservatism, but the nonprofit said that the material was always optional.

“We should have made clear that contemporary events like the Black Lives Matter movement, reparations, and mass incarceration were optional topics in the pilot course,” the letter states. 

The nonprofit also directly addressed a Feb. 7 letter that the FDOE released, taking credit for the updated syllabus. “That FDOE and the College Board have been communicating since January 2022 regarding the proposed course is remarkable,” their letter states. “We do appreciate the regular, two-way verbal and written dialogue on this important topic.”

This, the College Board argues, is a “false and politically motivated charge.”

“Our exchanges with them are actually transactional emails about the filing of paperwork to request a pilot course code,and our response to their request that the College Board explain why we believe the course is not in violation of Florida laws, the College Board wrote.”

They also said that they didn’t negotiate with the FDOE, let alone any state, on the material.

The College Board said that their communications with the FDOE were mostly “absent of substance”: “In the discussion, they did not offer feedback but instead asked vague, uninformed questions like, ‘What does the word ‘intersectionality’ mean?’ and ‘Does the course promote Black Panther thinking?’”

The nonprofit claims that the FDOE never sent them feedback after these calls, but opted to release the Jan. 12 letter, “now with inflated rhetoric and posturing,” saying the course “lacks educational value” as a publicity stunt.

In the Feb. 7 letter, the DeSantis administration also thanked the College Board for removing 19 topics, none of which the College Board claims they were asked to remove, and most of which are still in the final coursework. They also claimed that the College Board removed terms like “systemic marginalization” and “intersectionality” at the FDOE’s request, which is also untrue, according to the College Board.

“The notion that we needed Florida to enlighten us that these terms are politicized in several states is ridiculous,” the nonprofit said. “We took a hard look at these terms because they often are misunderstood, misrepresented, and co-opted as political weapons.”

In the end, the College Board lambasted the FDOE for trying to “engineer a political win.”

“Florida is attempting to claim a political victory by taking credit retroactively for changes we ourselves made but that they never suggested to us,” the letter states.

On Monday, DeSantis reaffirmed his opposition to the course, and mused on whether Florida schools needed the nonprofit’s products at all.

“They provided these AP courses for a long time, but you know, there are probably some other vendors who may be able to do that job as good or even a lot better,” the governor said at a news conference in Naples, Florida. He also said that he’s spoken with Florida House Speaker Paul Renner about potential legislation to “re-evaluate how Florida’s doing that.”

Latest News

Notable Replies

  1. DeSantis is the furthest thing away from being a scholar, in training, perspective, judgement and intellect…and he chooses to pass judgement on them.

    All for a shot at being President.

    Let that sink in…for the welfare of this country.

  2. George Wallace, 1959: “I will never be out-ni&&ered again!”

    Ron DeSantis, 2023: “Hold my Piña Colada.”

  3. Good for the College Board. First for calling DeSantis and his racist ‘friends’ out and secondly, for acknowledging they made some mistakes and they are being singled out for political gain.

  4. Avatar for massie massie says:

    ooh… is one of those Ozzie?

Continue the discussion at

76 more replies


Avatar for fgs Avatar for sysprog Avatar for ncsteve Avatar for globalguy Avatar for theod Avatar for dont Avatar for tacoma Avatar for joelopines Avatar for tecmage Avatar for lastroth Avatar for jkrogman Avatar for amandacorliss Avatar for ronbyers Avatar for fiftygigs Avatar for texastwostep Avatar for jonney_5 Avatar for massie Avatar for birdford Avatar for dominic Avatar for PacificSparkles Avatar for bcgister Avatar for eaharrison Avatar for emiliano4 Avatar for geographyjones

Continue Discussion
Masthead Masthead
Founder & Editor-in-Chief:
Executive Editor:
Managing Editor:
Associate Editor:
Editor at Large:
General Counsel:
Head of Product:
Director of Technology:
Associate Publisher:
Front End Developer:
Senior Designer: