Education Commissioner Manny Diaz Jr. has issued a clarification to Florida’s school superintendents, stating that the College Board’s AP Psychology course can be taught in compliance with the state’s laws. This comes as a response to recent confusion following the College Board’s claim that the course was effectively banned due to Florida’s restrictions on teaching topics related to sexual identity and gender orientation.
State of Florida vs. College Board
The controversy began when Florida education officials questioned the compatibility of the College Board’s courses with state regulations that limit discussions on sexual orientation and gender identity in K-12 public schools. The College Board, in response, resisted Florida’s efforts, referring to the state’s actions as the “Don’t Say Gay” law, a term used by critics.
Impact on School Districts
The ensuing uncertainty surrounding the status of the AP Psychology course led various school districts in Florida to make difficult decisions. Some chose to explore alternative psychology programs, while others decided to continue offering the course. For example, the Palm Beach County School District initially made the decision to discontinue the AP Psychology course but subsequently reversed this move after Commissioner Diaz’s clarification. Meanwhile, several school districts opted for alternative psychology programs, such as the Cambridge Advanced International Certificate of Education (AICE) and the International Baccalaureate (IB).
The rapid shifts in decisions illustrate the challenges faced by school districts. The Hillsborough County Public Schools initially advised students to enroll in the alternative Cambridge International psychology course. However, following Commissioner Diaz’s August 9 clarification, the district decided to continue offering the AP Psychology course. In light of these shifts, schools were faced with the task of swiftly adapting their course offerings to accommodate changing circumstances.
Credit Providers’ Responses
Cambridge International, an organization that offers the Cambridge AICE program, revealed that it had been asked by the Florida Department of Education to assess the compliance of its course with state laws. After conducting this evaluation, Cambridge International stated that it had not agreed to exclude references to gender identity and sexual orientation in its curriculum. The organization emphasized its commitment to supporting schools and teachers worldwide while enabling them to navigate local norms and requirements without disadvantaging students.
The International Baccalaureate (IB) program, which continued offering its psychology course in Florida, underlined the program’s flexibility. This flexibility allows teachers to align their curriculum with state laws while maintaining the core principles of the IB program. This approach ensures that Florida students can access a comprehensive and compliant education.
College Board’s Response
The College Board expressed disappointment with Florida’s decision to exclude certain content from the AP Psychology course. The organization firmly reiterated the importance of including topics related to gender identity and sexual orientation in the course curriculum. Furthermore, the College Board maintained that any AP Psychology course offered in Florida would face a dilemma: it would either violate state law or college requirements.
The situation surrounding the AP Psychology course in Florida highlights the challenges faced by educators, school districts, and education organizations when state regulations conflict with course content. It underscores the critical need for clarity and consistency in educational policies to ensure that students receive a well-rounded and comprehensive education. Ultimately, the impact of this controversy on students’ access to college-level courses and credits remains a significant concern for educators and families throughout the state of Florida.
Q : Is the AP Psychology course still available in Florida?
A : Yes, the AP Psychology course is still available in Florida.
Q : Can the AP Psychology course include discussions on gender identity and sexual orientation?
A : Yes, discussions on gender identity and sexual orientation can be included in the AP Psychology course in Florida.
Q : Are alternative psychology programs being offered in Florida schools?
A : Yes, some schools in Florida are offering alternative psychology programs in addition to the AP Psychology course.