How getting rid of the College Board could impact Florida students

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Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has suggested that Florida public schools stop using College Board classes after taking issue with some of the content proposed in the AP African American Studies course.

What will happen to public high school students if the governor gets his way? The governor believes if Florida stopped doing business with the College Board, high school kids could still earn college credits, but an expert says it’s not as simple as swapping companies.

If Florida stopped using the College Board and its AP classes at the end of this school year, all public high schools and most of their students would feel an immediate impact.

The governor is on the record pointing to the new AP African American Studies course as proof the College Board is more concerned with ideology than fact.

MORE: Florida faith leaders unite behind embattled AP African American Studies course

“The question is, with AP and College Board: who elected them, and are there other people that provide these services?” said Florida Governor Ron DeSantis.

The answer to the governor’s second question is yes. The International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme and Cambridge AICE.

“The problem with courses like the IB program or Cambridge AICE, they are limited access programs. They can only have so many students in those courses,” said Dr. Amanda Sterk, former director of accelerated pathways for FSW.

Sterk is president of the Florida Alliance of Dual Enrollment Partnerships. For the last six years, she’s helped thousands of students in Southwest Florida earn college credit while in high school.

She believes if Florida were to dump the College Board, as the governor suggested, the impact on kids would be immediate and severe. “I don’t think out-of-state schools are going to see Florida as being as competitive academically because part of your GPA is what college courses that you took.”

Subtract AP classes from a student’s transcript, and Sterk fears thousands of students will pay the price academically and financially.

“As a parent and a student, you can say if I get a three on AP English language, I am guaranteed by state law to get this credit,” said Sterk.

In other words, earning a three or higher on an AP exam translates into a Florida college credit, potentially saving families thousands in tuition costs.

Another critical difference; with AP classes, students can pick and choose. With the alternatives, it is currently all or nothing.

“A student who’s strong in English could just go take and try AP English language. But if they’re not strong in math, they don’t have to take AP statistics,” Sterk said.

With IB or Cambridge, Sterk says a student has to take advanced English and math.

Gwyn Gittens is a former Lee County School Board member. She worries the politics of public education is confusing to kids.

“We are teaching them that the world is divided. I don’t want to say black or white. But that the world is black and white. It’s either this or it’s that. And that’s not our world. It is not. It’s multicolored. It’s multi-factional, it’s multi-cultural,” said Gittens.

How did we get here? The governor blasted the College Board’s initial curriculum for the AP African American Studies course, which included lessons on critical race theory and the black queer experience. When the final framework for the class did not include those topics, DeSantis took credit.

The College Board shot back, saying the governor misrepresented the facts to advance his political agenda.

Will Florida get rid of AP classes? Only time will tell.

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