FOR THE WEEK OF FEB. 20, 2023
Florida governor pushes back against new African American Studies option for high schools
Share two facts from other education-related coverage.
Pick a quote from a Black History Month article and give your reaction.
Briefly summarize news about your state's governor or legislature.
The official curriculum for a new Advanced Placement (AP) high school course in African American Studies has been stripped of some topics that concerned Florida's governor and others. The College Board, a nonprofit organization that developed the class, dropped the names of many writers and scholars associated with critical race theory and Black feminism. "We wanted this course to be adopted by 50 states, and we wanted as many students and teachers as possible to be able to experience it," an executive explains.
Gov. Ron DeSantis, R-Fla., earlier said he'd ban the curriculum, based on a draft version. Florida education officials said it was "historically fictional," "lacks educational value" and violated a state law regulating how race issues are taught in public schools. David Coleman, head of the College Board, said changes resulted from "the input of professors" and "longstanding AP principles," not from political pressure. His organization this month criticized what it calls Florida's "uninformed caricature of African American Studies and the harm it does to scholars and students."
The revised 234-page curriculum has content on Africa, slavery, reconstruction, the civil rights movement, redlining, discrimination and Afrofuturism, as well as stories of achievers and heroes. But the Black Lives Matter movement, police brutality and a debate over reparations for slavery no longer are part of the year-end exam, though they can be topics for as required research project. "The appearance of bowing to political pressure in the context of new knowledge and ideas is something that should not be done," says Kimberlé W. Crenshaw, a Columbia University law professor whose views on critical race theory no longer are in the curriculum.
Five dozen schools nationwide last fall began a pilot version of the course, which has been in the works for over a decade. It's the College Board's 40th AP course and the first new one since 2014. About three dozen campuses let participants earn college credit for the class, which will be offered at virtually all high schools in the 2024-25 academic year. The College Board is "proud of this course," a Feb. 11 statement says. "Our commitment to AP African American Studies is unwavering. This will be the most rigorous, cohesive immersion that high school students have ever had in this discipline."
In Florida, DeSantis last week suggested he may ask legislators to "reevaluate" whether the state should keep any College Board AP classes. "This College Board — nobody elected them to anything," the governor said at a news conference. "They're just kind of there and provide this service, and you can utilize those services or not."
Florida governor says: "We believe in teaching kids facts and how to think, but we don't believe they should have an agenda imposed on them." – Ron DeSantis
Florida teacher says: "I have to be careful about how I might phrase some things or some of the topics that we may learn about." – Marlon Williams-Clark of Tallahassee
Historian says: "AP African American Studies is not critical race theory. It's not the ‘1619 Project.’ It is a mainstream, rigorously vetted, academic approach to a vibrant field of study." – Henry Louis Gates, Harvard University
Front Page Talking Points Archive