What can be taught in school classrooms has become a hot topic of debate throughout the United States. In Florida, that dispute drew national attention after the state’s Department of Education rejected the College Board’s newest Advanced Placement (AP) course, AP African American Studies.
The College Board’s AP website says the class “is designed to offer high school students an evidence-based introduction to African American studies. The interdisciplinary course reaches into a variety of fields—literature, the arts and humanities, political science, geography, and science—to explore the vital contributions and experiences of African Americans.” This class is currently being piloted at 60 schools throughout America.
Florida’s Commissioner for Education Manny Diaz, Jr. (he/him) tweeted about the class on January 20th, saying “We do not accept woke indoctrination masquerading as education.” An infographic outlaying the states concerns reads, in part: “Intersectionality is foundational to CRT (Critical Race Theory), and ranks people based on their race, wealth, gender, and sexual orientation.”
Bryan Griffin (he/him), the Florida governor’s press secretary, stated, “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.”
Most of the reaction to the course curriculum was based on a draft that has since been updated. The new draft shows changes that do away with many of the concerns raised in Florida. NPR reports that intersectionality, Black feminist literature, and Black Queer Studies were removed from the course framework. David Coleman (he/him), head of The College Board, told The New York Times, “At the College Board, we can’t look to statements of political leaders.” He said the changes were caused by “the input of professors” and “longstanding A.P. [sic] principles.”
On February 11th, the College Board released a statement apologizing for delaying its response to the controversy. “Our failure to raise our voice betrayed Black scholars everywhere and those who have long toiled to build this remarkable field,” it said. It denied that changes were made in response to pressure by the Floridian government, stating that adjustments were made beforehand and calling the accusation “a false and politically motivated charge.”
At a press conference on Monday, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (he/him) signaled that he may be willing to split from the College Board. The Miami Herald reported his remark that “there are probably other vendors who may be able to do that job as good or maybe even a lot better.”