Florida AP Psychology teacher fears saying the wrong thing in class for the first time.

Florida AP Psychology teacher fears saying the wrong thing in class for the first time.

The Controversy Surrounding AP Psychology in Florida

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School Districts in Florida Drop AP Psychology

School districts across Florida are abandoning the Advanced Placement (AP) Psychology course after the College Board, the nonprofit organization that manages AP coursework, declared that new state laws prohibiting the teaching of gender-related topics have effectively banned the course. The consequences of this decision have left both teachers and students frustrated and concerned.

An Unsettling Atmosphere

An AP Psychology teacher in Broward County, one of the large districts affected, expressed concerns about having to navigate carefully in the classroom. She said, “I feel like I have to be careful with what I say to my students for the first time in more than 15 years of teaching.” This statement highlights the chilling effect these new laws have had on teachers, forcing them to restrict the material they can cover during their lessons.

The teacher further conveyed her frustration by sharing a personal experience involving her son. She revealed, “I had a fifth grader who wasn’t allowed to give a speech this year in debate because it was on a Shel Silverstein poem, and it was a banned book in Florida.” The fact that even non-controversial subjects are being affected by censorship in the state adds to the concerning narrative surrounding education in Florida.

Districts Switch to Alternative Courses

Out of the 11 districts with the highest enrollments in Florida, seven have chosen to switch to alternate courses, while the remaining four have decided to continue teaching AP Psychology. Broward County officials ultimately decided to allow parents to opt in or out of the course next year to ensure compliance with the law. This compromise aims to prioritize students’ well-being and parental choice.

To address the switch to alternative courses, the AP Psychology teacher mentioned earlier voiced her concerns. She explained that instructors who transition to a different subject will have only one week to acquaint themselves with the new material, a challenge that puts Florida students at a disadvantage.

The “Don’t Say Gay” Bill and Its Impact

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed the controversial “Parental Rights In Education Act,” informally known as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, into law in March of last year. The legislation prohibits teachers from conducting classroom discussions about sexual orientation or gender identity. In response, the College Board, refusing to modify the AP Psychology curriculum to align with the law, declared it would not compromise the fundamental promises of the AP program.

According to the College Board, the AP Psychology course has included a section for the past 30 years that explores the influence of sex and gender on socialization and developmental aspects. Consequently, on August 3, the College Board advised schools not to offer the course if they wanted to remain compliant with Florida’s laws.

The Florida teacher’s union quickly accused Governor DeSantis of advancing an “extremist agenda” to censor the AP Psychology course. The AP Psychology teacher in Broward County, disturbed by the potential loss of the course, highlighted its significance, stating, “It’s more than talking about gender, although that’s obviously an important place for kids as well, to be able to discuss that or learn stuff about that. But it’s not just that.”

The Value of AP Psychology

The AP Psychology course offers students more than just discussions about gender. It provides them with mental health information that they may not otherwise have access to. Unfortunately, the decisions of politicians often shape the educational syllabus, with teachers sometimes being directed to exclude topics that are deemed inappropriate for students. This limitation affects both the breadth of knowledge students can acquire and their overall understanding of important issues.

The AP Psychology teacher concludes, “Gosh, I’ve never had to think about that before.” This statement underlines the unprecedented challenges teachers in Florida are facing when attempting to ensure their students receive a comprehensive and well-rounded education.

It remains to be seen if the state of Florida will reconsider its decision, recognizing the detrimental impact it may have on students’ educational experiences and their future opportunities for advanced learning.

This article explores the recent controversy surrounding the removal of AP Psychology in Florida and its implications for educators and students. The implementation of controversial laws restricting classroom discussions about gender has raised concerns about the limitations of students’ education and the challenges faced by teachers. By examining both the personal experiences of teachers and the broader impact of these decisions on the curriculum, this article provides an in-depth understanding of the issue at hand.