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October 26, 2023

Classroom content should not be driven by votes

The+cancellation+of+the+AP+Psychology+course+in+Florida+has+left+students+and+educators+pondering+the+repercussions+of+this+decision.+The+Sidekick+staff+writer+Yug+Talukdar+thinks+the+banning+of+such+courses+raises+concerns+about+the+impact+on+students%E2%80%99+academic+opportunities+and+the+future+of+education.%0A
Sofía Exposito
The cancellation of the AP Psychology course in Florida has left students and educators pondering the repercussions of this decision. The Sidekick staff writer Yug Talukdar thinks the banning of such courses raises concerns about the impact on students’ academic opportunities and the future of education.

Between the bustling hallways, tests and quizzes, I cannot say I have always loved school. 

However, the rigor school provides is crucial in developing a better society, and school is an environment that should remain impartial.

Political parties use various aspects of society as mechanisms to maintain power through votes. This can become dangerous when political parties change educational norms to garner more support from voters.

Throughout recent years, wealthier, more developed countries have notably seen an increase in their population who deem homosexuality as socially acceptable. According to the American Psychology Association, this in turn has stirred up more activism and a louder opposition regarding sexuality in the United States.

Conservative lawmakers, who mostly appeal to voters by promising to uphold traditional values, often support the suppression of discussions regarding sexuality.

In order to appease their voter base, Florida Republicans have effectively prevented thousands of students from attaining knowledge about AP Psychology due to its homosexuality topics.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who is also running for president, has been an advocate for removing sex education in schools across his state, including talks about sexuality, in favor of reserving that right to only parents and guardians. In July 2022, Florida passed House Bill 1557, enacting this policy.

Last summer, many Florida school districts decided to remove AP Psychology courses due to a disagreement between Florida lawmakers and College Board over course material regarding how sexuality affects human psychology. 

During the disagreement, Florida proposed that AP Psychology could continue to be taught if its sexuality chapter was removed. 

The AP Psychology course has touched on sexuality since its inception in 1992. The content includes academically accepted theories that explain how sexuality is shaped in individuals and what homosexuality is, something that College Board has deemed as important material which is also required for receiving college credit by the APA.

College Board saw no reason to cut out a topic that had been discussed since the course’s founding, and refused to offer the course with these modifications. 

AP Psychology is currently offered at Coppell High School, and includes the College Board curriculum with the study of sexuality. With politics around the nation growing more polarized, these effects are more likely to shift educational policies in the near future because Texas, specifically, is at risk of following suit. Notable Texas Republicans have already shown they are willing to turn to education as a political battleground by supporting school vouchers.

Historically, government intervention into education through politics is commonly seen in authoritarian regimes. It is a tactic that helps politicians cement their control over a population through long periods of time. 

By appealing to a portion of the population that opposes education with topics related to sexuality, the effective banning of AP Psychology in Florida highlights how politicians are starting to use school as a means to maintain power. 

Republican politicians in Florida have built a large following through policies banning discussions of sexuality in schools. To keep the votes steady, politicians have to prove their policies’ effectiveness through new legislation like House Bill 1557.

The adaptation of new policy serves as one part of the puzzle, but the implementation shows voters that politicians have had a practical impact on society. The effective banning of AP Psychology represents a Republican victory to traditionalist voters, showing them their voice is heard and encouraging them to vote red.

Tactics such as these are fairly common among all political parties, but implementing them through education demonstrates how modern American politicians have become more desperate for votes.

The use of education as a political tool in America through the banning of AP Psychology introduces a dangerous precedent that other politicians might follow not only in Florida, but also in other states like Texas. Politicians may use educational content as a way to farm votes, reducing the amount of knowledge available to students. If this trend continues, education risks becoming highly filtered, jeopardizing student’s learning for the sake of political power. 

Students should not be kept from discussing sensitive topics in school. In life, people encounter many phenomena, and knowledge can help to increase empathy and understanding. By barring students from discussing sensitive topics, they may view the world with more uncertainty, leading to further potential social issues and a lack of awareness.

Follow Yug (@YugTalukdar) and @CHSCampusNews on X.

 

 

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About the Contributors
Yug Talukdar, Staff Writer
Yug is a sophomore and a staff writer. He has enjoyed since 2017 watching soccer and his favorite team is Arsenal. He reads historical and philosophical fiction such as 1984 as a hobby. Yug hopes to grow in communication, writing and photography skills as a journalist and meet new people. You can contact him at [email protected].
Sofía Exposito, Staff Designer

Sofia Exposito is a sophomore and staff designer for The Sidekick. Five years ago, Sofia moved to Coppell, Texas from Venezuela, as her relatives reside here. Although English isn’t her first language, Sofia was able to pick it up quickly upon her move, taking only about one or two years. She adores drawing and spends most of her time sketching and creating designs and cartoons whenever she can. Her love for drawing has only grown over the years as Sofia aspires to be an animator and work for a large animation company one day. Some of her favorite animated movies are Spirited Away and Totoro as she’s a huge Studio Ghibli fan, and Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse. She's an extrovert and loves to involve herself in conversation with new people, especially about things she’s very interested in. She loves the beach and swimming due to the beautiful sunset scenery. Her favorite foods include: anything chocolate, but mostly M&M’s, which are perfection in her eyes, and McDonalds. Contact her at [email protected], or on Instagram (@sofiaexpriv).

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