Feb 1, 2023 - Politics & Policy

AP African American studies class changed after DeSantis criticism

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks at a press conference to announce the award of $100 million for beach recovery following Hurricanes Ian and Nicole in Daytona Beach Shores in Florida.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks at a press conference on Jan. 18 in Daytona Beach Shores in Florida. Photo: Paul Hennessy/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

The College Board on Wednesday released curriculum for its new Advanced Placement African American Studies course, excluding some of the content that infuriated Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R).

Why it matters: The outrage over the curriculum underscores the ongoing battles against critical race theory — a topic that is often conflated with teachings on systemic racism.

Driving the news: The curriculum does not require teaching on topics including Black Lives Matter or the case for reparations, two topics that were opposed by DeSantis.

  • The "reparations debates in the U.S./the Americas" is listed is a sample project topic on the curriculum, but is not a required lesson plan, nor is it part of the final exam.
  • The curriculum on slavery, reconstruction and the civil rights movement remains relatively unchanged in the curriculum.

The big picture: The Florida State Board of Education and DeSantis earlier this month tried to block the new AP course, telling the College Board that it is "contrary to Florida law and significantly lacks educational value."

  • DeSantis said the course violates a Florida law that bans instruction that defines people as oppressed or privileged based on their race.
  • DeSantis' administration drew strong backlash from Black leaders, Florida lawmakers and governors in other states.
  • Civil rights attorney Ben Crump accused the state of violating the federal and state constitutions and threatened to sue if it did not reach an agreement with the College Board to reinstate the course.

On Tuesday, DeSantis unveiled a proposal to revamp the state's higher education system intended to elevate "intellectual freedom" and push back against "indoctrination."

Zoom out: As of this month, 1,530 school districts in 49 states saw school board candidates take a stance on race in education or critical race theory, per Ballotpedia, Axios' Russell Contreras reports.

What to watch: The AP course is currently being piloted in 60 high schools across the country with plans to expand it to hundreds more schools in the fall, the Washington Post reported.

  • The course will formally be launched nationwide in 2024, with the first AP exams taking place in 2025.
  • “This course is an unflinching encounter with the facts and evidence of African American history and culture,” David Coleman, CEO of the College Board, said in a statement Wednesday.

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