April 2, 2023

COLLEGE SWORD: Illinois Governor goes after DeSantis’ dangerous Black history ban

COLLEGE SWORD: Illinois Governor goes after DeSantis' dangerous Black history ban

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Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) sent a stern warning to the College Board if its overhaul of the AP African American Studies program rejected by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R) fails to include a true and realistic accounting of Black history.

This includes retaining the important role played by Black members of the LGBTQ community.

In a letter to the non-profit, Pritzker vowed to reject a sanitized version of the APAAS curriculum to comply pacify the authoritarian mandates of Gov. DeSantis.

“In Illinois, we reject any curriculum modifications designed to appease extremists like the Florida Governor and his allies,” he wrote.

The Illinois Democrat is refusing to accept changes that “ignores the nation’s ‘true, if sometimes unpleasant, history.”

Gov. Pritzer said the state will carefully review the revisions to insure their factual detailing of the role slavery played in the country’s foundation, an acknowledgment in the face of the Civil War, and the continued fight for equity in the 158 years since.

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When the College Board’s pilot program was revealed in mid-January, a swift and immediate condemnation from Gov. DeSantis and his GOP allies commenced.

DeSantis accused the APAAS course of being a “gateway for indoctrination,” and alleged its writers have a “political agenda.”

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We look forward to reviewing the College Board’s changes and expect the removal of content on the Critical Race Theory, Black Queer Studies, Intersectionality, and other topics that violate our laws. – DeSantis

In 2021, Pritzker referred to Florida’s governor as “Donald Trump with a mask on” at the state’s Democratic Party conference.

“He’s just trying to pass off his covert racism, homophobia, and misogyny as a more reasonable form of Trump Republicanism,” Pritzker said.

Shortly after DeSantis signed Florida’s Parental Rights in Education Bill, commonly called the “Don’t Say Gay” law, Pritzker publicly criticized the passing of the bill.

“We cannot stand idly by as Republican governors wage incessant attacks on the LGBTQ+ community,” Pritzker tweeted. “Everyone deserves a state where you can be your authentic self,” he added.

Unfortunately, the governor’s pleas fell on deaf ears.

On Wednesday, the College Board caved to Gov. DeSantis’ demands and released a new “acceptable” version of the APAAS program palpable to Republican dissenters.

Black writers associated with Black feminism, critical race theory, and the queer experience have been altogether removed from the curriculum, along with Black Lives Matter.

The revised version of the course highlights the “peaceful,” social justice movement of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and deceased congressman and civil rights pioneer, John Lewis, and states that civil rights legislation in the 1960s effectively ended segregation while segueing into the current right-wing narrative of disruptive civil unrest.

“Some members and leaders transitioned away from their commitment to nonviolence toward separatist, Black nationalist principles,” course details state.

The Board’s leader David Coleman insists politics had nothing to do with the changes, but instead, from “the input of professors” and adherence to the principles of the Advanced Placement program.

There’s been talk that Gov. Pritzker is a potential 2024 Democratic candidate for President, though the advocate for a true reflection point for America on its complicated, and oft-times brutal history in regard to equity, discrimination, and marginalization of the country’s African-American community has yet to confirm or deny the rumors.

DeSantis has picked up the pace – and egregiousness – in his war on Florida’s public education system.

The state’s shortage of nearly 10,000 teachers is likely to get worse as educators feel powerless in their ability to push back on the GOP administration’s increasingly restrictive and targeted directives, in effect, stifling a commitment to providing students with an educational, equitable, safe, and inclusive learning environment.

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Though Pritzker’s actions appear to be coming from a sincere place, rejecting the College Board’s revised AAS course could be seen as a win-win for Republicans wanting to whitewash history.

This is dangerous, to say the least.

College Board’s decision to walk back its integrity and jeopardize the validity of its longstanding position as the administrator of the nation’s AP program by placating the bigoted demands and motivations of Gov. Ron DeSantis is also a gateway – to repression, oppression, and fascism.

Original reporting by Tina Sfondeles at The Chicago Sun-Times. 

Follow Ty Ross on Twitter @cooltxchick

Ty Ross

News journalist for Washington Press and Occupy Democrats.

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