College Board to revise, resubmit 'problematic' AP African American studies course after DeSantis' rejection

DeSantis rejected the course earlier this month because it lacked "educational value."

Hannah Nightingale Washington DC

Following Florida’s rejection of a College Board AP African American Studies course earlier this month, the College Board has announced that it would update the course, and submit it’s revised program on February 1.

The Florida Department of Education rejected the course’s initial version earlier this month, saying that it lacked "educational value."

According to Florida’s Voice, the College Board said that the course’s "official framework" has been in the works since March of 2022 to replace the preliminary pilot course framework. The revised course framework is expected to be released on February 1.

"Before a new AP course is made broadly available, it is piloted in a small number of high schools to gather feedback from high schools and colleges. The official course framework incorporates this feedback and defines what students will encounter on the AP Exam for college credit and placement," the College Board said, according to Florida’s Voice.

"We are grateful for the contributions of experts, teachers, and students and look forward to sharing the framework broadly."

Alex Lanfranconi, a spokesperson for the Florida Department of Education, said that the department was encouraged by College Board’s willingness to amend the course, and that the College Board recognized that the original course curriculum was "problematic."

"AP courses are standardized nationwide, and as a result of Florida’s strong stance against identity politics and indoctrination, students across the country will consequentially have access to a historically accurate, unbiased course," Lanfranconi said.

The Florida Department of Education said, "As Governor DeSantis said, African American History is American History, and we will not allow any organization to use an academic course as a gateway for indoctrination and a political agenda. We look forward to reviewing the College Board’s changes and expect the removal of content on Critical Race Theory, Black Queer Studies, Intersectionality and other topics that violate our laws."

Florida Statutes say that students must learn about "The history of African Americans, 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 Americans of the African diaspora to society."

Instructors are required to teach in an "age-appropriate manner" about "how the individual freedoms of persons have been infringed by slavery, racial oppression, racial segregation, and racial discrimination, as well as topics relating to the enactment and enforcement of laws resulting in racial oppression, racial segregation, and racial discrimination and how recognition of these freedoms has overturned these unjust laws."

The statute clearly states that "classroom instruction and curriculum may not be used to indoctrinate or persuade students to a particular point of view inconsistent with the principles enumerated in subsection (3) or the state academic standards."

Subsection three says that instruction and classroom materials "must be consistent with the following principles of individual freedom" including that "No person is inherently racist, sexist, or oppressive, whether consciously or unconsciously, solely by virtue of his or her race or sex," "No race is inherently superior to another race," "No person should be discriminated against or receive adverse treatment solely or partly on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, disability, or sex," and "Meritocracy or traits such as a hard work ethic are not racist but fundamental to the right to pursue happiness and be rewarded for industry."

Earlier this month, the DeSantis administration rejected the course, citing it as a "vehicle for a political agenda" that is ambiguous and "can be filled with additional ideological material."

A letter from the Florida Department of Education to the College Board stated that the board could come back to the table with a course that contains "lawful, historically accurate content," and that the department would be willing to reopen the discussion.

"As Governor DeSantis has stated, our classrooms will be a place for education, not indoctrination," DeSantis’ Press Secretary Bryan Griffin said at the time.

When the course was rejected, the College Board said in a statement to the Associated Press, "Like all new AP courses, AP African American Studies is undergoing a rigorous, multi-year pilot phase, collecting feedback from teachers, students, scholars and policymakers."

"The process of piloting and revising course frameworks is a standard part of any new AP course, and frameworks often change significantly as a result," the College Board’s statement read.

The course included weekly topics like "Black Queer Studies," "'Postracial' Racism and Colorblindness," "Incarceration and Abolition," "The Reparations Movement," as well as "Intersectionality and Activism."

Speaking last week on the topic, DeSantis said, "this course on black history, What are one of what's one of the lessons about? Queer theory. Now, who would say that an important part of black history is queer theory? That is somebody pushing an agenda on our kids and so when you look to see they have stuff about intersectionality, abolishing prisons, that's a political agenda."


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