The College Board on Wednesday announced major changes to its Advanced Placement (AP)) African American studies course after objections from the administration of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R), drawing sharp criticism from advocates and civil rights groups who said the alterations removed key material.
The College Board has said the changes were already in progress, and the coursework DeSantis rejected was part of a pilot program run in only a couple of dozen schools.
Regardless, the announced changes have caused backlash, with critics saying the College Board bowed to the demands from a Republican governor looking to start culture war fights.
The College Board has defended the revisions, with CEO David Coleman saying the “course is an unflinching encounter with the facts and evidence of African American history and culture.”
Here are some of the key concepts that are in and out of the revised course:
What is gone?
Topics that were originally required material, but got taken off of the coursework completely include:
- Black queer studies
- Intersectionality and activism
- The reparations movement
- Black scholars associated with critical race theory, or CRT
DeSantis had gone after these topics, saying they were not useful and claiming they were pushing an agenda on children.
“This course, when I heard it, didn’t meet the standards. I figured, ‘Yeah, they may be doing CRT,’” he said last month. “It’s way more than that. This course on Black history, what [is] one of the lessons about? Queer theory. Now, who would say that’s an important part of Black history, queer theory? That is somebody pushing an agenda on our kids.”
Those in favor of the course as it originally was say the removal of these topics take away from students’ education and erases a critical part of Black history.
“The lives, contributions, and stories of Black trans, queer, and non-binary/non-conforming people matter and should not be diminished or erased,” David J. Johns, executive director of the National Black Justice Coalition, said in a statement. “Black history has always been queer. You cannot teach Black history while erasing members of our community and the contributions made to our community and this country.”
What is optional?
Required material shifted to optional:
- Black Lives Matter: Origins, impacts, critics
- Reparations debates in the U.S./the Americas
Last month, Florida released a graphic highlighting some of the key issues it had with the AP African American course.
Among them was “the reparations movement” section, where the state says the curriculum did not give a “critical perspective” or opposing opinion on the topic.
Although not a required part of the material anymore, the reparations debate and Black Lives Matter movement are now part of optional project subjects students can choose from in the course.
What is new?
Among others additions, an optional project called “Black conservatism: development and ideology” was added to the curriculum, drawing attention after the previous GOP criticism of the course.