After Florida and Arkansas refused to allow an Advanced Placement African American Studies course in schools, the College Board is doubling down on its commitment to teach Black history with revised curriculum.
The board, a non-profit that oversees college-level classes and administers the SAT college admissions test, said in a statement it asked “subject-matter experts in the AP Program, scholars, and experienced AP teachers to revisit the course” after “intense public debate.”
The Florida Department of Education rejected the AP course at the beginning of the year, with a spokesperson saying it “lacks educational value and is contrary to Florida law." Education has been a hot topic in the Sunshine State ever since DeSantis championed the Parental Rights in Education Bill, colloquially known as the "Don't Say Gay" bill, which bans the mention of gender and sexuality in classrooms. Educators K-12 are prohibited from mentioning the topics at risk of losing their licenses.
The FDOE also banned the teaching of Critical Race Theory in schools, and has passed measures preventing universities that receive funding from forming diversity, equity, and inclusion programs. Governor Ron DeSantis himself spoke out against the AP course, claiming it pushes a "political agenda."
In February, the College Board released a revised version of the course, removing terms such as "intersectionality" and "systemic." Reparations and Black Lives Matter were only including as optional research topics. After Florida officials accredited their policies with the revisions, alleging that they discussed the course with the College Board for months, College Board released a statement denying their claims, and accusing the state's education department of "slander."
Arkansas Restricts AP African American Studies Course
The College Board agreed to revise the material and bolster the topics that had been watered down in April. They released the new curriculum Wednesday to praise from educators and activists alike.
The new version includes additional images of the Tulsa Race Massacre and maps of redlining. It also features new sections on African American contributions in World War II, including the Tuskegee Airmen, as well as their contributions to music, theater, film and sports. There is also a section on African American women's contributions.
The topics that range from early African kingdoms and the transatlantic slave trade to the Civil War, Reconstruction, and the Civil Rights Movement. Topics such as Black Lives Matter and the reparations debate are listed as suggestions to discuss during a “further explorations” week, which will not be part of the AP Exam.
“This course is a vibrant introduction to a dynamic field that offers a broader perspective," Brandi Waters, senior director of African American Studies at College Board’s AP Program and lead author of the course revisions, said in the statement. "It invites students to develop analytical skills while examining African Americans’ wide-ranging experiences, contributions, and creativity, and the impact of the broader African diaspora on the world we live in."
She added: “This is the course I wish I had in high school. I hope every interested student has the opportunity to take it."
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