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Published on December 06, 2023
College Board Reveals, Final AP African American Studies Curriculum Amid Political ScrutinySource: College Board

The College Board, the body governing Advanced Placement courses in high schools nationwide, has recently unveiled the final version of its African American Studies curriculum. This announcement, happening today, comes after an earlier backlash from Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and his education office against the course's alleged political slant.

The updated curriculum, viewed by the Miami Herald, pointedly omits several controversial topics. Notably absent are lessons on the Black queer experience, which DeSantis explicitly criticized. Furthermore, discussions covering the Black Lives Matter movement and the reparations debate now appear as optional content, asserting that these subjects will not feature on the final exam. Despite these exclusions, texts by Black scholars such as Kimberlé W. Crenshaw and Angela Davis, previously derided by Florida educators, have maintained their place within the syllabus.

AP News reports that the latest adjustments to the curriculum also broaden its scope by integrating more topics. This includes the Tulsa Race Massacre, Black culture's contribution to film and sports, and historical redlining practices. These changes aim to address prior concerns about the course potentially capitulating to political pressures.

Students will explore the combined impact of racism, sexism, and classism. Yet, students who fully grasp that the reparations debate and the Black Lives Matter movement are only optional topics, will not be examined on these issues. This signals a College Board navigated through the rough terrain of political tension, while tending to the integrity of the African American Studies subject matter.

As reported by the Miami Herald, the framework emphasizes that students must demonstrate a thorough understanding of topics such as intersectionality and the impact of slavery on wealth disparities. These elements had previously raised red flags with the Florida Board of Education, which promoted standards suggesting some enslaved individuals could 'benefit' from their bondage.

The College Board has held that the feedback from its pilot AP programs and the academic community remained the driving forces behind the content changes. Its officials have firmly stated they held no discussions with Florida authorities when deciding which parts of the curriculum to keep or omit. The AP African American Studies course is expected to go live for the 2024-25 academic cycle after a further national rollout to schools next year, though it remains uncertain which schools will offer the program, as explained by Holly Stepp, a College Board spokesperson.

The framework's updates reflect the College Board's commitment to offering an "unflinching encounter with the facts," as highlighted by the relevant materials and scholarship in contemporary collegiate studies. Pilot teachers like Nelva Williamson, with over 40 years of teaching experience, provided insight into the development process, indicating that the course is still adapting based on the educators' monthly feedback, a process that also includes asks for additional content.

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