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Former Jacksonville teacher speaks out about decision to leave Florida over recent education laws

A former Sandalwood High School history teacher says he feels teachers are being demonized instead of credited for using their knowledge.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — A former Duval County teacher is speaking out about his decision to leave the state out of frustration with the recent state's laws and restrictions that prevent teachers from including certain class material to students.

From the 'Don't Say Gay' Law, the Stop WOKE Act, and now the state's blocking of the AP African American Studies class, a former Sandalwood High School history teacher says he feels teachers are being demonized instead of credited for using their knowledge about important historical and present-day events to teach students. 

"This is another way to attack public education as an institution," Former teacher Alex Ingram said. 

The former Duval County High School African American History and AP Government teacher accuses Governor Ron DeSantis of showing hostility toward educators when deciding to block AP African American studies from being taught in Florida high schools. 

"We are talking about America in both positive and negative lights, through the lens of African Americans. I think the governor would like to have a race blind society where they say, 'Oh, black people and white people are perfectly equal.' That is the ideal under the law, but in practice, the complications from hundreds of years of history have made it such that economically that simply is not the case," Ingram said. 

Pen America Senior Manager of Free Expression and Education Jeremy Young says teachers are experts in the subjects they teach and denying some topics to be taught in classrooms is a threat of free expression.

"The goal is not to make students agree with any of these ideas, but to help students understand what they are and where they come from. So that even if students disagree, they can have a more informed understanding of where these what these ideas are as they move into adulthood," said Young.

Ingram says he even feared losing his job as a teacher in Florida if someone didn't agree with his instruction and resigned from his position at Sandalwood High School in January and recently moved to Connecticut to teach African American History. 

"There's a lot more resources available, that are being utilized," Ingram said. 

Ingram says prohibiting access to AP classes harms students who want to take college credit courses. February 1st, College Board is expected to release the official framework of the AP African American Studies Course.

 It's not known what in the course will be different or if the revisions are in response to the state's opposition of the course. 

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