College Board Calls Florida Attacks on AP African American Studies Course “False and Politically Motivated”

The College Board on Saturday charged the Florida Department of Education of “slander”, after continued criticism of his advanced placement (AP) African American Studies Course, which was launched in a pilot program in 60 unnamed US high schools this year. It is unclear whether any of these schools are in Florida.

“Our commitment to AP African American Studies is unwavering,” the College Board wrote in a statement, before expressing regret over its handling of ongoing tension with the state’s Department of Education.

“We deeply regret that we did not immediately denounce the Florida Department of Education’s slur, amplified by subsequent comments by the DeSantis administration, that African American studies ‘have no educational value.’ Our failure to raise our voice has betrayed black scholars everywhere and those who have long worked to build this remarkable field,” the statement read.

The College Board went on to say that “we made the mistake of treating the FDOE with the courtesy we always accord an educational agency, but instead they exploited that courtesy for their political agenda”.

Last month, the DeSantis administration blocked the introduction of AP African American Studies. In a Jan. 12 letter to the College Board, the state Department of Education’s Liaison Office said “in its current form” the “course lacks educational value and is contrary to Florida law.”

Just a few weeks later, the College Board posted the AP African American Studies course curriculum online, which was now missing some of the subjects DeSantis had expressed particular concerns about, such as writings associated with critical race theory, the queer experience, and black feminism. . reported the New York Times.

Student Samaya Robinson, 17, holds a sign protesting the district’s ban on the critical racial theory curriculum at Great Oak High School in Temecula, Calif., on Friday, Dec. 16, 2022.

Watchara Phomicinda/The Press-Enterprise via Getty Images

On February 7, the state’s Office of Liaison wrote to the College Board in response to its revised curriculum, saying that “By no coincidence, we were pleased to see that the College Board’s revised structure on February 1, 2023 removed 19 topics, many of which the FDOE cited as conflicting with Florida law, including discriminatory and historically fictitious topics.”

“In Florida’s effort to win a political victory, they claimed credit for specific changes we made to the official structure, none of which they have ever asked us to remove, and most of which remain in the official structure,” the College Board responded. in his Saturday statement.

Regarding the characterization of some topics as “historically fictional”, the statement continued: “The College Board condemns this uninformed caricature of African American studies and the harm it does to scholars and students.”

Last March, DeSantis signed the “Stop the WOKE Law” banning the teaching of critical racial theory in Florida schools. The College Board said on Saturday that allegations that the board was in “frequent dialogue” with Florida officials about the “content” of the course was a “false and politically motivated accusation.”

FILE – Florida Governor Ron DeSantis reacts after signing House Bill 7, also dubbed the “Stop WOKE Act”, at Mater Academy Charter Middle/High School in Hialeah Gardens, Florida, on April 22, 2022.

Miami Herald by Getty Imahes

“We have had no negotiations regarding the content of this course with Florida or any other state, nor have we received any requests, suggestions or feedback,” the College Board statement read.

Henry-Louis Gates, Jr., one of the country’s leading experts on African American history — and who helped develop the AP African American Studies program — told Time magazine that the course specifically “isn’t CRT.”

“It’s a rigorously scrutinized mainstream academic approach to a vibrant field of study, half a century old in American academia and much older, of course, in historically black colleges and universities,” he said.

The AP program, which offers high school students the opportunity to take college-level courses before graduation, spans 38 disciplines, including English Literature and Composition, US Government and Politics, Statistics, and Art History.

The AP African American Studies course is the College Board’s first new offering since 2014, according to Time, and will cover more than 400 years of African American history. It had been in the works for over a decade prior to its initial pilot, and the curriculum will cover a variety of topics including literature, political science and geography.

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