College Board revises African American studies class after DeSantis criticism
The College Board on Wednesday released a revised version of an Advanced Placement African American studies course following criticism from Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R), who refused to allow the program to run in the state’s schools.
In a new framework for the course reviewed by The Hill, Black writers and scholars associated with critical race theory have been scrubbed from the curriculum, as have those who touch on the Black queer experience and Black feminism. Other topics, like Black Lives Matter, are now optional.
The Board also added “Black conservatism” as a potential research topic.
David Coleman, the head of the College Board, told The New York Times that these changes were not made to bow to political pressure.
“At the College Board, we can’t look to statements of political leaders,” Coleman said. The changes, he said, came from “the input of professors” and “longstanding A.P. principles.”
But last week, when changes were first announced, DeSantis’s administration took credit for the move.
“Thanks to @GovRonDeSantis’ principled stand for education over identity politics, the College Board will be revising the course for the entire nation,” press secretary Bryan Griffin said on Twitter last week.
DeSantis’s administration rejected the original course because “the content of this course is inexplicably contrary to Florida law and significantly lacks educational value.”
The administration specifically named topics of intersectionality, Black queer studies, the Black Lives Matter movement, Black feminist literary thought, the reparations movement, and the Black study and Black struggle in the 21st century as key concerns.
It also identified writings by Kimberlé Crenshaw, the “founder” of intersectionality; Angela Davis, a “self-avowed Communist and Marxist”; Roderick Ferguson; Leslie Kay Jones; bell hooks; and Robin D.G. Kelly as problematic.
At a press conference defending his decision, DeSantis said queer theory had nothing to do with Black history and added his administration believes in “teaching kids facts and how to think,” not political agendas.
“We want education, not indoctrination,” he said. “If you fall on the side of indoctrination, we’re going to decline. If it’s education, then we will do.”
The NAACP’s Legal Defense Fund said Tuesday that Black Americans “are multifaceted individuals.”
“We can identify with multiple communities,” it added. “We can be both Black *and* LGBTQ+.”
DeSantis’s actions have been met with backlash across the nation.
“Gov. DeSantis’ whitewashing of history and book bans are his latest assault on American history and our First Amendment rights,” Florida state Sen. Shevrin Jones (D), the state’s first openly gay senator, said in a statement.
“Horrifyingly, it is our vulnerable and underrepresented students who will suffer the most as a result.”
Last week, three students threatened to file a lawsuit against the governor if the course was kept from schools.
Meanwhile, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) sent a letter to the College Board stating he expects any AP African American studies course to “include a factual accounting of history, including the role played by black queer Americans.”
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