On the first day of Black History Month, the College Board released a revised curriculum for Advanced Placement coursework in African American Studies in apparent response to criticism from Florida Governor Ron DeSantis.
The board’s revisions eliminated the names of many Black writers and scholars associated with critical race theory, the queer experience and Black feminism, eliminated topics like Black Lives Matter, and introduced a new idea for a research project: Black conservatism.
The original course draft unveiled in August was chewed up and spit out by DeSantis and Florida conservatives, as the governor cited “historical inaccuracies.” DeSantis declared it violated state law and would be banned in Florida.
To further complicate the matter, Florida has been joined by two dozen other states who have adopted measures against Critical Race Theory.
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. Additionally, that list can be adapted by states and local districts.
Students take the courses and exams to show their academic prowess when applying to college. Most four-year colleges and universities grant college credit for students who score high enough on an A.P. exam. And more than a million public high school students graduating in 2021 took at least one A.P. exam.
While DeSantis enacted the “Stop WOKE Act” to prevent schools from teaching about systemic oppression, a judge blocked the enforcement for colleges and universities. High schools are still subjected to the restrictions.
Further Good Reading:
Politico addressed the specific topics that were causing conservatives to squirm.
Those controversial topics included “Intersectionality and Activism,” “Black Queer Studies,” “‘Postracial’ Racism and Colorblindness,” “Incarceration and Abolition,” “Movements for Black Lives” and “The Reparations Movement.”
These topics drive at extremely polarizing political debates, including what if anything the country owes its Black citizens, whether the criminal justice system is fair and unbiased and the meaning of sexuality. Even outside an AP course, these are fraught topics.
Why have high school juniors and seniors study works on intersectionality, reparations and the carceral state? Aren’t these controversial topics? Aren’t they inherently political?
Yes, but that’s part of the curriculum directive — to sharpen critical thinking skills, develop an argument for or against reparations or prison reform — not to indoctrinate.
But Wait — There’s More!
Happy Black History Month to New College in Sarasota, Florida!
A slate of new board members installed by DeSantis earlier this month replaced college President Patricia Okker with former GOP House speaker and education commissioner Richard Corcoran, installed a DeSantis appointee as the new board chair, moved to hire a former Republican lawmaker as the school’s new general counsel and began the process of abolishing programs aimed at increasing diversity, equity and inclusion on campus, turbo charging a dramatic conservative culture shift.
Another board member is a dean at Hillsdale, a conservative “Christian” college in Michigan that has been held up as a model for Florida schools.
At a four hour meeting on Tuesday, ousted former president Patricia Okker was in tears, apologizing to the audience — some also in tears — for disappointing them. Okker couldn’t go along with new mandates, which she called a hostile takeover and a dramatic change in the mission.
New College is a 700-student liberal arts school, and touted as “quirky, queer and creative.”