Proposed changes to Florida college sociology course would eliminate it as ‘core course’ for graduation

There could be a big change coming for Florida college students when it comes to basic course requirements.

The State Board of Education has recommended removing a specific sociology class as a “core course” for graduation.

The class at the forefront of this discussion is called “The Principles of Sociology.”

If this move goes through, college students would still be able to take the class. However, it would not count toward the required social science coursework anymore.

According to a syllabus for the class, it includes lessons on gender, sex, sexuality, race and ethnicity.

The Republican-controlled Legislature and Gov. Ron DeSantis this spring approved a law (SB 266) that required a review of the state college and university systems’ core courses in five subject areas. The law also made changes such as prohibiting colleges and universities from spending money on diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives.

During a meeting Thursday with the Board of Governors’ faculty committees, education commissioner Manny Diaz explained why he is pushing for the change.

“The reason why I am suggesting [this] is to reduce the number of social science courses to six with three of those, potentially being options to meet the requirement for civic literacy,” Diaz said who participated in the meeting via phone.

The committee ultimately recommended the following changes:

It would add “Introduction to Geology” and “Introduction to Oceanography” courses to the Natural Science class offerings.

“Introductory Survey to 1877,” which is an American History class, would replace The Principles of Sociology course as a core course for civic competency.

Two members of the committee voiced their opposition to the proposal.

“These are general education courses,” said Amanda Phalin. “That change is going to significantly impact enrollment for those very large number of students who take those courses. I think the committee did a great job. These are our subject matter experts across the state that the universities convened. I think that we should approve the list as given to us by our subject matter expert. I would not be in favor of removing that from the list.”

“I certainly agree that adding the American History class promotes civic engagement and education,” said Jack Hitchcock, who is a student board member and current Florida State University student. “I do not know how deleting principles of sociology promotes civic engagement and education.”

A third board member, Patricia Frost, also voted against the change. Frost is a former teacher and principal.

Although the proposed changes were approved, this is not a done deal.

Everything has to get final approval from the full Board of Governors at its next meeting.

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