Vice President Harris spoke with Democratic leaders in Florida about Gov. Ron DeSantis’s (R) decision to block an Advanced Placement African American studies course, blasting Republicans in the state as “extremist so-called leaders.”
Harris spoke with state House Minority Leader Fentrice Driskell (D) and state Senate Minority Leader Lauren Book (D) on Sunday during a visit to Florida marking the 50th anniversary of the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision. In the conversation, Harris, the first Black person and first woman to be vice president, took aim at those who made the decision to ban the course.
“Every student in our nation should be able to learn about the culture, contributions, and experiences of all Americans – including Black Americans – who shaped our history,” Harris said to the lawmakers, according to a White House official.
“Unfortunately, in Florida, extremist so-called leaders ban books, block history classes, and prevent teachers from freely discussing who they are and who they love,” Harris added. “Anyone who bans teaching American history has no right to shape America’s future.”
Florida officials notified the College Board of their decision to block the course in a letter last week.
“The content of this course is inexplicably contrary to Florida law and significantly lacks educational value,” the Florida Department of Education said in the letter.
The letter did not specify which state law the course violated.
The move from Florida to ban the AP course is just one in a string of policies in a number of conservative-controlled states to restrict how race is taught in schools. Many Republican governors and legislatures have taken aim at critical race theory, an academic concept that looks at how systemic racism has impacted American laws and institutions. Last week in Arkansas, Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders(R) in one of her first official acts, issued an executive order that bars teachers from talking about race in certain ways.
The White House called the DeSantis administration’s decision “incomprehensible.”
“It is incomprehensible to see … this ban or this block, to be more specific, that DeSantis has put forward,” press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters on Friday.