The College Board on Wednesday released an official curriculum for its new Advanced Placement African American Studies course, which has been in the crosshairs of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and his acolyte Gov. Sarah Sanders.
The New York-based College Board has been piloting the class in some 60 school districts this school year, including at Little Rock Central High School.
DeSantis announced in January that he was banning the course in Florida, citing the state’s Stop-Woke Act, which prohibits the teaching of anything that would cause anyone to “feel guilt, anguish or any form of psychological distress” due to their race, color, sex or national origin. (Surely, coming soon to a legislature near you.)
Sanders, on her first day of office, signed an executive order banning indoctrination and the teaching of critical race theory. And then followed that up by directing the state education division and Education Secretary Jacob Oliva, who she poached from Florida, to investigate whether the AP African American Studies class violated her order.
Here’s the draft curriculum.
The New York Times reports that the College Board has made substantial changes to contemporary topics.
In its revised 234-page curriculum framework, the content on Africa, slavery, reconstruction and the civil rights movement remains largely the same. But the study of contemporary topics — including Black Lives Matter, incarceration, queer life and the debate over reparations — is downgraded. The subjects are no longer part of the exam, and are simply offered on a list of options for a required research project.
And even that list, in a nod to local laws, “can be refined by local states and districts.”
The expunged writers and scholars include Kimberlé W. Crenshaw, a law professor at Columbia, which touts her work as “foundational in critical race theory”; Roderick Ferguson, a Yale professor who has written about queer social movements; and Ta-Nehisi Coates, the author who has made the case for reparations for slavery. Gone, too, is bell hooks, the writer who shaped discussions about race, feminism and class.
Central High teacher Ruthie Walls has been teaching the pilot course. She talked with Central’s Tiger News Online:
“[The course doesn’t] teach CRT, I just teach history. I don’t add anything, I don’t take anything away. History will stand by itself,” said Walls. “I hope they will take a look at the framework and recognize that it is history, it is rich history, that everyone has the right to learn if they so please.”
Walls said that students have been coming to her for years in hopes of an AP African American Studies class, and when the school was invited to be one the first schools across the nation to teach it, the reception by students was overwhelming.
“The first day of AP African American Studies, we went over the limit that the state says is allowed to be in the course. Every seat in here was taken and four on the wall. There was an interest, and for that, I’m really excited,” said Walls.
Pamela Smith, spokewoman for the district, further provided the Times with this statement from Walls:
Last spring our Gifted and Talented Coordinator (also over Advanced Placement) called to say that she saw an article about College Board’s Pilot of AP African American Studies. The window of opportunity was narrow. She asked if I would be willing to teach the course. I was so excited about the possibility that I agreed. We did receive a formal invitation to pilot the course. As I mentioned, it was a brief window, so everyone pitched in to help. Ms. Rousseau, the counselors, the registrar and our downtown administration. it was a team effort. It is of vital importance to teach AP African American Studies. It is about our students. First, the kids really want to know the history. Next, as educators our goal is to help students become well-informed, critical thinkers. The history actually helps them understand the very complex world that we live in now. I teach one section of AP African American Studies. Currently twenty-seven students are enrolled in the course. I’m getting quite a bit of positive comments about the class. My fellow teachers were so happy to see the course being offered. The students are engaged, and the parents are on board. I have even received emails from other social studies teachers around the state in support of the course. I ‘m very pleased with the curriculum and the primary sources that the College Board has made available. I can’t tell you how proud I am of all of my students. The course is challenging but all come in every day and work hard.