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Districts divided on AP Psychology as Florida teachers’ union seeks clarity from DOE

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Will AP Psychology be offered in Florida schools this year, and if so, will anything be cut out?

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That’s the question the state’s largest teachers’ union has for the Florida Department of Education.

Action News Jax was the first to report on the letter sent by Florida’s Commissioner of Education to school superintendents Friday.

In it, Commissioner Manny Diaz wrote, “The Department believes that AP Psychology can be taught in its entirety in a manner that is age and developmentally appropriate”.

Some school districts like St. Johns and Nassau took that to mean they could offer the course this school year, but Florida Education Association President Andrew Spar pointed out many other districts canceled the course anyways.

“They don’t believe that teachers can teach this course and not get in trouble for doing it,” said Spar.

Duval County Public Schools joined that list Monday.

“Instead of AP Psychology, students will be enrolled into a different accelerated college credit course such as the AP Seminar course, the Cambridge AICE Psychology course, or other options,” said a district spokesperson in an emailed statement.

It was the section on gender and sexual orientation that spurred the controversy surrounding the course.

READ: After clash over teaching on gender, psychology class may be available to Florida students

Last week, the College Board claimed the Florida Department of Education was planning to censor the section to comply with state laws restricting instruction on gender identity and sexual orientation.

FEA sent this letter to the Department over the weekend asking whether the course can be offered ‘without any modifications’.

Spar argued despite the Department claiming the course can be taught ‘in its entirety’ it’s still not clear whether parts of the course will face censorship.

“The Department of Education said that course can be taught in its entirety in an age and developmentally-appropriate way. Well, I don’t know what that means. Can the course be taught in its entirety or not?” said Spar.

Spar noted the answer matters, as the College Board said the ‘AP’ designation cannot be used if aspects of the course are censored.

He added even if the Department does clear up the confusion, it will be too late for the thousands of students in districts that already pulled the course, as the start of the school year is just days away.

“What we have happening right now is a political spat, which is interfering with the education of our children. Politics should not override the education of our children,” said Spar.

Action News Jax reached out to the Department of Education seeking clarity on the Commissioner’s letter, but didn’t hear back.

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