Dec 6, 2023 - Politics & Policy

Teaching BLM movement optional in updated AP African American studies class

Demonstrators protest Florida Governor Ron DeSantis' (R) plan to eliminate Advanced Placement courses on African American studies in high schools in February 2023. Photo: Joshua Lott/The Washington Post via Getty Images

The College Board updated its AP African American studies curriculum, removing the Black queer experience and making instruction on the Black Lives Matter movement optional.

Why it matters: The nonprofit behind the course removed facets that were criticized by Florida's Department of Education — a choice that drew national attention.

  • Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R), who is also now running for president, backed the state DOE's decision to reject the course. He has made cultural issues, especially related to education, a centerpiece of his campaign.
  • The course will officially launch in the 2024-25 school year.

Details: The course includes Black scholars and authors, such as Kimberlé W. Crenshaw and Angela Davis, previously deemed inappropriate by Florida education officials, the Miami Herald reported.

  • It also kept intersectionality and race-related concepts.
  • The updated curriculum has more material on the Tulsa Race Massacre, Black culture's influence on film and sports and redlining, a discriminatory housing practice, the AP reported.

Yes, but: Material on the Black Lives Matter movement won't be included on the AP exam.

  • The activist movement can be taught as part of the "further explorations week" during the final week of lessons that includes optional topics, per the Miami Herald.
  • Other reported optional instructions for this week are reparations, incarceration and abolition, Black women writers and filmmakers, African American art and culinary traditions.

Of note: The organization said changes were based on feedbacks from students and teachers in the pilot run of the class, per the Miami Herald.

  • "The course focuses on the topics — essential events, experiences, and individuals — that scholars, AP teachers, and subject-matter experts in AP find crucial to a study of African American history and culture and the African diaspora," the College Board said in a statement.

Flashback: The College Board earlier this year excluded concepts from the curriculum that were in the pilot run of the class.

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