On Saturday, the College Board charged the Florida Department of Education of “slander”, after constant criticism of his own Advanced placement (AP) African-American Studies curriculum, which was rolled out in a pilot program to 60 unnamed U.S. high schools this year. It is unclear if 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 not immediately exposing the Florida Department of Education’s slander, magnified by subsequent comments by the DeSantis administration that African-American studies ‘lack educational value.’ Black scholars from around the world 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 FDOE with the courtesy we always accord an education agency, but they have instead leveraged that courtesy for their own 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 Office of Articulation said that “in its present form” the “course lacks educational value and is contrary to Florida law.”
A few weeks later, the College Board released the course curriculum for AP African American Studies online, which was now missing some of the topics DeSantis had expressed particular concern about, such as writings associated with critical race theory, queer experience, and black feminism, reported the New York Times.
On Feb. 7, the state’s Office of Articulation wrote to the College Board in response to its revised resume, saying, “Not surprisingly, we were grateful to see that the College Board’s February 1, 2023 revised framework removed 19 topics, many of which FDOE cited as conflicting with Florida law, including discriminatory and historically fictitious topics.
“In Florida’s effort to engineer a political victory, they’ve claimed credit for the specific changes we’ve made to the official framework, none of which they’ve ever asked us to remove, and most of which remain in the official framework,” replied the College Board in its statement Saturday.
On characterizing some topics as “historically fictitious,” the statement continued, “The College Board condemns this misinformed caricature of African-American studies and the harm it does to scholars and students.”
Last March, DeSantis signed the “Stop WOKE Act”, prohibiting the teaching of critical race theory in Florida schools. The College Board said Saturday that allegations that the board was in “frequent dialogue” with Florida officials about the “content” of the course were “a false and politically motivated allegation.”
“We have not negotiated the content of this course with Florida or any other state, nor have we received any requests, suggestions or feedback,” the College Board statement reads.
Henry-Louis Gates, Jr., a top expert on African American history in the country — and who helped develop the AP African American Studies program — told Time magazine that the course specifically “isn’t CRT.”
“It’s a tightly controlled, traditional 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, covers 38 subjects, including English literature and composition, U.S. 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 before its initial pilot, and the curriculum will cover several subjects, including literature, political science, and geography.
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