College Board revises African American studies course, but Florida still needs to review it

by | Feb 2, 2023


  • College Board has released a revised curriculum framework for its AP African American Studies course.
  • The original course was rejected by the state of Florida’s education officials on the basis that it lacked “educational value and historical accuracy” and was a “vehicle for a political agenda.”
  • College Board responded to the rejection by saying that the criticisms were not taken into account when revising the course and that the course was developed using standard practices.
  • Several subject areas were removed from the revised syllabus.

College Board, the developer of the AP African American Studies course rejected by state education officials, released a new curriculum framework for the class on Wednesday that features new topics and revised course requirements.

In a letter obtained by The Capitolist dated January 12th, the DeSantis administration told College Board that the course’s rejection was decided on the basis that the class is “inexplicably contrary to Florida law,” and “significantly lacks educational value.”

“The Florida Department of Education has rejected the College Board’s AP African American Studies course because it lacks educational value and historical accuracy,” the Office of the Governor stated via email. “As submitted, the course is a vehicle for a political agenda and leaves large, ambiguous gaps that can be filled with additional ideological material, which we will not allow. As Governor DeSantis has stated, our classrooms will be a place for education, not indoctrination.

In response to the state’s objections, College Board issued a statement claiming that the criticisms were not taken into account when revising the course and that the course was curated using standard practices.

The organization also said the official framework has been under development for nearly a year and that no state or district has seen the new official syllabus in order to provide feedback.

“This course is an unflinching encounter with the facts and evidence of African American history and culture,” said David Coleman, CEO of College Board. “No one is excluded from this course: the Black artists and inventors whose achievements have come to light; the Black women and men, including gay Americans, who played pivotal roles in the civil rights movement; and people of faith from all backgrounds who contributed to the antislavery and civil rights causes. Everyone is seen.”

Per College Board, the AP Program consulted with more than 300 professors of African American Studies from more than 200 colleges nationwide, including dozens of historically Black colleges and universities, along with high school teachers across the country.

According to News Service of Florida, which analyzed the new curriculum in comparison to the original, rejected iteration, College Board removed topics such as “queer theory, “movements for Black lives,” “Black feminist literary thought,” “intersectionality and activism” and “the reparations movement” from the course.

“The AP Program is focused on our long-established processes for creating compelling, meaningful college-level coursework, and in creating a historic course in African American Studies that will make generations of students better informed than they are today,” said College Board in a statement.

According to the original AP syllabus, the course is an interdisciplinary class that examines the diversity of African American experiences through direct encounters with authentic and varied sources.

Further, the course challenges students to “identify the intersections of race, gender, and class,” as well as connections between Black communities in the United States and the broader African diaspora.

Democrat lawmakers were quick to decry the course’s original rejection, including Sen. Shevrin Jones, who spoke to The Capitolist on the matter last week.

“I think Florida is doing its absolute best to tilt the scale to shut down discussions about race, to shut down discussions about slavery, and anything to do with a challenge to the idea that racism is still prevalent in this country,” said Jones.

Meanwhile, those close to DeSantis, like Deputy Press Secretary Jeremy Redfern, rejected opposing notions, stating that College Board is “trying to pass off a thinly cited and largely ideological course as education is not good enough for Florida’s students.”

Those working alongside the Florida Department of Education said that if College Board amends the course to comply with state standards, the Department will reconsider the course for approval.

The Department of Education has not looked through the new course framework yet and has not provided a statement or response to its release.

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