The Impact of Educational Changes in Florida and the Role of Sociology in Black History Month

February 5, 2024
  • Committees and Caucuses
  • Diversity and Inclusion
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  • black caucus
Illustration of Black History Month

By Tara Kent, Director, Office of the Registrar, New York Campus - American Musical and Dramatic Academy

Entering Black History Month, it's crucial to note Governor Ron DeSantis's recent actions affecting Florida's education system. Prohibiting advanced African American Studies in high schools, eliminating diversity programs in public colleges, and now removing core sociology courses in universities, these decisions cast a shadow over education. Sociology faculty fear for their future, and enrollment managers worry about the enrollment impact, especially for sociology majors. The unfolding impact of politics on educational choices is reshaping the institution's landscape. This comes just days before Black History Month, prompting a deeper reflection on the significance of sociology, its history, and its meaning for African American education. Sociology, exploring human society and social issues, faces a challenging moment in Florida's educational evolution. 


After the abolishment of slavery, there were not many institutions that welcomed the enrollment of Blacks. There was a process that had to occur over the next few years before the first HBCU was established. There was a foundation led by Black sociologists to dismantle the sociological literature that supported systemic beliefs that blacks were inferior. Sociology was in the beginning stages and these social scientists led the investigation of “Black Sociology” and several institutions played a pivotal role in debunking the sociological view that whites were superior. Distinguished African American figures such as W.E.B DuBois, E. Franklin Frazier, Charles S. Johnson, Joseph Himes, and others played a pivotal role in advancing the field of sociology when they enrolled in HBCUs like Atlanta University, Howard University, Fisk University, and Tuskegee. Sociology was a path for black scholars to study problems associated with race, economics and social class and scholars such as Edward Franklin Frazier were able to conclude “When the political relations of whites and colored peoples are viewed in world perspective, they are seen to be a phase of the developing social organization of the world”. 

Sociology and Education

In considering Governor Ron DeSantis's decision to remove core sociology classes from Florida's colleges and universities, it raises pertinent questions about the significance of sociology today and the implications of this change on education. Sociology, as a discipline, has played a pivotal role in shaping our understanding of human society, challenging systemic biases, and contributing to the debunking of harmful stereotypes.

The removal of sociology as a core course is concerning, especially given its historical significance in dismantling the sociological narratives that propagated the idea of Black inferiority. Black Sociologists, through rigorous inquiry and scholarship, paved the way for a more inclusive and accurate understanding of social dynamics. By removing sociology from the core curriculum, there is a risk of diminishing the critical perspective it provides on issues related to race, inequality, and social justice.

Furthermore, the decision seems to disregard the rich history of how sociology contributed to the establishment and progression of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). These institutions have been essential in providing access to education for Black individuals and fostering an environment where diverse perspectives are valued.

The removal of sociology as a core course could potentially undermine efforts to promote inclusivity, diversity, and a comprehensive understanding of societal structures. As we navigate the complexities of today's world, a robust education in sociology is more relevant than ever, enabling students to critically analyze and address contemporary social challenges.

In conclusion, it is crucial to advocate for the retention of sociology as a core course, recognizing its historical significance, its role in dispelling harmful stereotypes, and its ongoing relevance in fostering a more informed and equitable society. Engaging in open dialogue with educational authorities and advocating for the preservation of diverse and comprehensive curricula is essential for the continued advancement of education and understanding in our communities.

College Programs and Enrollment

Leaders in Enrollment Management express a strong interest in college programs, recognizing them as crucial anchors that draw scholars to their institution. In an era marked by a decline in high school graduates and college enrollment, it is imperative to maintain competitiveness. Colleges and universities must ensure that their programs align with both current and emerging industry needs, possessing societal relevance that sustains diversity and technology integration. Moreover, institutions need to exhibit flexibility and adaptability in course models to accommodate diverse learners seeking a balance between work, school, and home life. These considerations are just a few aspects that enrollment managers must factor in when striving to attract students to their campus. Now, in addition to these challenges, they are compelled to navigate political considerations that may impact their institution.

Navigating Political Considerations

In the current landscape, colleges and universities are compelled to proactively participate in advocacy efforts, highlighting the significance of higher education and the value of specific programs. Collaborating with policymakers and industry leaders becomes essential to ensure that program offerings align with overarching economic and societal objectives. Navigating political considerations requires strategic decision-making that considers the institution's mission, student needs, and the broader educational landscape. Maintaining adaptability and responsiveness to policy changes is crucial for achieving sustained growth.


In summary, the relationship between program offerings and enrollment growth is complex and multifaceted. Colleges and universities that actively address student needs, societal demands, and industry trends, while adeptly managing political considerations, are more likely to attract and retain a diverse and expanding student body. Just as we celebrated the trailblazers in Black Sociology, institutions must spotlight the success stories of program graduates as compelling testimonials. These narratives demonstrate the tangible real-world impact and outcomes of the education provided, offering politicians validation for the value of specific programs.


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