Controversy Surrounds New AP African American Studies Course

The College Board’s new AP course framework came under fire after it was leaked earlier this year.



Florida Governor Ron Desantis. After an early draft of the framework for the new AP African American Studies course was leaked, DeSantis and the Florida Board of Education rejected the course, stating that it “lacks educational value.”

On Feb. 1, the first day of Black History Month, the College Board released the official curriculum for a new AP course: African American Studies. Per their Wednesday announcement, to create the framework, the AP program partnered with “more than 300 professors of African American Studies from more than 200 colleges nationwide, including dozens of historically Black colleges and universities, along with dedicated high school teachers across the country.” The topics represent the issues and events that experts agreed were vital to the study and understanding of the history and culture of Black Americans.

After the course was first announced in August, an early draft was leaked to the Florida Review and National Review, where it quickly came under fire from conservatives.

“Education is about the pursuit of truth, not the imposition of ideology or the advancement of a political agenda,” tweeted Florida Governor Ron DeSantis in January.

Led by DeSantis, the Florida Board of Education rejected the course, stating that it “lacks educational value.” The Board also openly challenged the College Board, inviting the body “to come back to the table with lawful, historically accurate content,” before the Florida Board of Education would “be willing to reopen the discussion.”

Twenty-eight thousand people, along with Becky Pringle, president of the National Education Association, the nation’s largest labor union, have already signed a petition demanding the Florida State Board of Education approve the course.

“It’s clear that Fl. Gov. DeSantis has been using Black students as political pawns in his quest to build power and conservative outrage, and the Florida State Board of Education (SBE) has long enabled him,” the petition states.

Following the backlash, the AP stripped the proposed curriculum, purging it of much of the subject matter that had angered the governor. This purge included the removal of authors and scholars often associated with critical race theory, the queer experience and Black feminism. Discussion of the Black Lives Matter movement and other politically charged topics were also removed from the formal curriculum. Instead, these topics are offered on a list of options for a required research project, which “can be refined by local states and districts.”

Still, the revised curriculum framework thoroughly covers topics such as slavery, reconstruction, civil rights, redlining, discrimination and Afrofuturism. After the framework was released, Bryan Griffin, the press secretary for Desantis, said that the state education department was currently reviewing it for “corrections and compliance with Florida law.”