A recently released course on African American studies avoids DeSantis' critique

Sherif Saad

DeSantisPhoto byPriscilla Du PreezonUnsplash

On Wednesday, the first day of Black History Month, the nonprofit organization in charge of the Advanced Placement program presented its updated curriculum.

The formal framework for the College Board's Advanced Placement course in African American studies, which was just made public, appears to exclude several themes that led Florida's Republican governor, Ron DeSantis, to endorse its rejection.

On Wednesday, the first day of Black History Month, the nonprofit organization in charge of the Advanced Placement program presented its updated curriculum.

It took nearly ten years to construct a college-level course that covers everything from the first African kingdoms to the situation facing black Americans today.

Additionally, it coincides with the political backlash against the course in Florida, where top education officials rejected a pilot version of the course after objecting to lessons on queer studies, reparations, and prison system abolition, all of which appear to have been removed from the new curriculum's requirements.

The nonprofit organization reaffirmed on Wednesday that neither a state nor a district got a copy of the new framework before it was unveiled, and it denied that any comments from state officials were taken into account.

In a tweet aimed at College Board CEO David Coleman on Wednesday and including a picture of a New York Times article on the final framework, Democratic California Governor Gavin Newsom said, "I call bullshit—you are essentially a puppet of Ron DeSantis."

Before the College Board issued the final framework, at least two governors—DeSantis and Democratic Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker—sent letters to the organization about the course. Pritzker warned that Illinois schools would not accept the "watering down of history."

Robert J. Patterson, a professor at Georgetown University and co-chair of the group of educators who established the course, stated in a statement, "This refining process, which is a component of all AP courses, has worked independently from political pressure."

The course's 234-page introduction reveals that it covers a variety of subjects, including the beginnings of the African diaspora, the slave trade, and the Civil Rights struggle.

The Black Panther Party, the rise of the black middle class, abolitionists, and the position of black women in society are among the topics covered in the course. The updated specifications will be in place when the course begins in the 2024–2025 academic year.

The revised curriculum also does away with required lessons on intersectionality, a component of critical race theory, as well as other subjects that Florida's Department of Education had previously deemed "concerning."

The pilot's lessons on Black queer studies and movements for Black lives were left out of the final version. However, such subjects were given as prospective directions for the students' 1,500-word required assignment.

The Black Lives Matter movement, reparations discussions, intersectionality and aspects of the Black experience, and queer existence and expression in Black communities are just a few examples of "current subjects or debates" that students might choose from for their projects.

The AP program said that it supports each school and has its unique curriculum that enables students to develop the abilities and understandings in the framework, despite the coursework having curricular and resource requirements.

According to College Board CEO David Coleman in a statement, "This course provides an uncompromising engagement with the facts and evidence of African American history and culture." This course is open to everyone. Everyone is visible.

The AP program was advised by more than 300 African American Studies professors from more than 200 universities throughout the nation as they developed the course structure during the previous year, according to the College Board. The course-refining process was completed in December.

When the College Board revealed that the program would be changed before its distribution, DeSantis, who claimed that the original curriculum "pushed an agenda," declared a triumph.

But before the course can be made accessible to students in the state, it must first be approved by the Florida Department of Education.

Florida's rejection of the program garnered widespread attention and led to a dispute with Illinois, where Pritzker referred to DeSantis' actions as "political grandstanding." Ben Crump, a civil rights lawyer, has promised to fight DeSantis if Florida once again forbids the teaching of the course in schools.

Asserting lately that "every kid in our country should be able to learn about the culture, contributions, and experiences of all Americans," Vice President Kamala Harris criticized the decision to deny the course.

In response to the state's "Stop WOKE" statute, which outlaws training that would cause someone to "experience shame, grief, or any other type of psychological distress" because of their race, color, sex, or national origin, DeSantis has stood by refusing the course.

Similar "divisive notions" rules, which limit how educators can talk about racism, sexism, or systematic injustice in the classroom, are present in about 18 states. The majority of the legislation was an attempt to refute critical race theory, which examines how racism has permeated American institutions and law throughout history.

The majority of public school administrators nationwide claim they do not teach the notion. But when determining whether to embrace the new multidisciplinary curriculum, these states could decide to move in the direction of the DeSantis administration.

In an interview with Charlie Kirk for the Charlie Kirk Show podcast that aired on January 26, DeSantis stated, "Our core curriculum... necessitates the teaching of Black history, but true Black history—I mean things that matter."

" This course pushed for reparations and other topics, including intersectionality, eliminating prisons, and queer theory. "That's political activism," he continued. It's a free nation, so do as you like on your own time.

However, since it is attempting to impose an agenda rather than teach children, we in the state of Florida will not use tax money to fund it in our schools.

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