College Board Revises African American AP Course Material After DeSantis Criticism

Matt O'Hern
Florida Governor Ron DeSantisPhoto

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis drew national attention to Advanced Placement courses on African American studies, and the College Board seemed to take note. Today, the College Board published revisions to course curriculum for AP African-American studies.

While the College Board denied that the revisions were made in response to DeSantis' criticism, much of the content omitted in the new version includes the very content cited by DeSantis as he defended the decision made by Florida Education Commissioner Manny Diaz. Course material removed from the previous version include critical race theory, the queer experience and black feminism.

According to a report by the New York Times and a tracking project by the University of California, Los Angeles, the College Board faced the possibility of other opposition: more than two dozen states have adopted some sort of measure against critical race theory, which includes verbiage about whites being "oppressors" of minorities.

In the New York Times' report, David Coleman, the head of the College Board, said “At the College Board, we can’t look to statements of political leaders.” According to Coleman, the changes came from “the input of professors” and “longstanding A.P. principles.” Coleman also said that during the initial test of the course this school year, the board received feedback that the secondary, more theoretical sources were “quite dense” and that students connected more with primary sources, which he said have always been the foundation of A.P. courses.

A common misconception surrounding Florida's decision was that the state blocked any and all course material surrounding African American History. President Biden's administration weighed-in on Florida's decision when White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre implied that DeSantis was banning African American history courses in Florida's public schools.

“It is incomprehensible to see that this is what this ban—or this block, to be more specific—that DeSantis has put forward. If you think about the study of black Americans, that is what he wants to block and, again, these types of actions aren’t new, especially from what we’re seeing from Florida, sadly,” Jean-Pierre said.

Pierre declined to discuss the state’s actual objections, but Florida state law mandates African American history courses in public schools, including the history of African peoples before the political conflicts that led to the development of slavery, the passage to America, the enslavement experience, abolition, and the history and contributions of African Americans to society.

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Matt O’Hern’s journalism experience includes political news reporting for various organizations and news publications in Florida since 2005. O’Hern graduated from Samford University in Birmingham, AL with a degree in journalism.

Orlando, FL

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