Florida parents, teachers demand clarity on AP Psychology

The College Board said it 'hopes' Florida instructors can now teach without fear of punishment.

The Florida PTA says teachers need assurance they won’t be punished by teaching Advanced Placement Psychology in full this year.

The state’s largest parent organization sent a letter to Education Commissioner Manny Diaz Jr. demanding unequivocal guidance, and quickly, as many Florida school districts begin classes this week.

“We urge you to make the definition of ‘appropriate’ a matter of informed parental discretion, and to state this explicitly,” wrote Florida PTA President Carolyn Nelson-Goedert.

The missive comes amid confusion about whether Florida schools will even offer the course.

Diaz sent a letter to school districts Friday saying the course could be offered in its entirety. That seemed an abrupt reversal by the state, days after the Florida Board of Education said instructors would need to leave out content about sexuality and gender identity. That prompted pushback from the College Board, which said Florida could not list courses as AP classes while censoring the curriculum.

“In fact, the Department believes that AP Psychology can be taught in its entirety in a manner that is age and developmentally appropriate and the course remains listed in our course catalog,” Diaz wrote in a letter to school districts.

That appeared to satisfy the College Board, which issued a statement saying Florida could list AP courses. But the statement included some trepidation.

“Friday’s statement from the Florida Department of Education represents revised guidance on AP Psychology. While district Superintendents continue to seek additional clarity from the Department, we note the clear guidance that, ‘AP Psychology may be taught in its entirety,’” reads the College Board statement.

“We hope now that Florida teachers will be able to teach the full course, including content on gender and sexual orientation, without fear of punishment in the upcoming school year.”

But Florida teachers and parents alike want more than hope.

“In a college-level course with the potential to guarantee college-level credit, it is understood that students will be asked to master content that in scope, rigor and required maturity level exceeds that generally offered at the secondary level,” Nelson-Goedert wrote in her letter to Diaz.

“We further urge you to clarify that no instructor, administrator, school district or School Board member will be sanctioned for offering or approving instruction in gender identity or sexual orientation to students whose parents approve their enrollment in AP Psychology.”

The Florida Education Association President Andrew Spar also sent a letter to Diaz on Friday seeking clarity for instructors.

“We call on you to clearly and unambiguously state that nothing in AP Psychology course violated Florida statutes of Florida State Board of Education rule,” Spar wrote.

The Duval County School District has also announced that, regardless of Diaz’s letter, schools in the Greater Jacksonville area will not offer AP Psychology. Officials told Action News Jax in an email that offering the course puts teachers’ future in jeopardy based on conflicting direction from the state.

“If AP Psychology is taught in its entirety, which is required for students to sit for the exam, it could place teachers and school leaders in uncertain waters with potential charges under the law,” the email to the news outlet reads.

Jacob Ogles

Jacob Ogles has covered politics in Florida since 2000 for regional outlets including SRQ Magazine in Sarasota, The News-Press in Fort Myers and The Daily Commercial in Leesburg. His work has appeared nationally in The Advocate, Wired and other publications. Events like SRQ’s Where The Votes Are workshops made Ogles one of Southwest Florida’s most respected political analysts, and outlets like WWSB ABC 7 and WSRQ Sarasota have featured his insights. He can be reached at [email protected].


  • rbruce

    August 8, 2023 at 11:13 am

    What has happened over the past few years in human development that has made gender identity so important to everyday life? Please explain how gender identity progresses the betterment of the lives of 5 billion people.

    • Dont Say FLA

      August 8, 2023 at 11:31 am

      The Y chromosome is slowly disappearing. It’ll never make any difference at all to human males alive today, but the Magga type male (alpha, beta, carotine, delt, ,eplison, … blah blah blah,… Magga, iow WAY down the hierarchy) are scared of being replaced by whatever and are now instantly outraged by anything and everything they consider to be “unmanly” which, imo, is bigly “unmanly” of them. Having learned nothing due to education being outlawed, they cannot see the irony.

    • Seriously?

      August 9, 2023 at 4:00 pm

      Ask your psychologist.

  • Dont Say FLA

    August 8, 2023 at 11:25 am

    Sorry folks, it’s effectively no longer safe or legal to teach or practice medicine in Florida. You can thank Governor Rhonda for that. If you do want to teach or practice medicine, Delta is ready when you are.

  • PeterH

    August 8, 2023 at 11:28 am

    DeSantis and our incompetent Florida legislators jumped into stupidity with their culture wars and now are trying to quietly backtrack. Why is Florida trying to model Alabama and Mississippi? Good grief.

    Republicans are America’s biggest problem!

    Vote all Republicans out of office!

  • Kamwick

    August 8, 2023 at 12:41 pm

    This is a fine example of how people who castigate folks with expertise in their fields ruin it for everyone in the name of “politicians know better than (doctors, lawyers, educators, librarians, etc.).

    My 95 year old dad, who is glued to Faux Noise while awake, uses the phrase ‘so-called experts’ all the time to castigate those in fields the knowledge of which he hasn’t a clue.

    Make intellectualism and intelligence great again, folks.

  • Lynda

    August 8, 2023 at 3:25 pm

    What a mess for the 28,000 FL students who take this AP course routinely. Censorship is a difficult policy to administer; deSantis and his administration is particularly inept at implementing censorship at age levels they have little training to understand.

    Hurting FL colleges like New College by implementing a conservative bias is one thing. Hurting all FL students who will attend colleges in states where biases are not in control of what students should learn (to avoid indoctrination into non-conservative ideas) is a totally different prospect. Every FL student who requires specific qualifications for hundreds of careers will need to have an identifying mark showing they lack education their competition for jobs has taken.

    • Michael K

      August 10, 2023 at 9:51 am

      The GOP is destroying public education in Florida – it’s been their goal for a long time.

Comments are closed.


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