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DeSantis ceases AP African American Studies

MON.| 3-20-23 | OPINION

     College Board has designed 38 Advanced Placement (AP) classes since its creation in 1952. Recently, they introduced
the pilot for their newest course, AP African American Studies. After being tested at 60 schools across the country, one state has raised issues with this particular course resulting in a state-wide ban on AP African American Studies, which led College Board to remove many topics from its curriculum.

     Florida’s Governor Ron DeSantis voiced his opposition to AP African American Studies by banning it from all public high schools in the state of Florida. DeSantis claims
that certain areas of this course such as the Black Lives Matter movement and critical race theory are pushing a “political agenda” rather than educating students. In a letter to College Board, Florida’s Department of Education stated that this course “significantly lacks educational value.”


Graphic by Jack Albritton

     In response to this ban, College Board removed several of these topics in order to appease DeSantis and the Florida Department of Education. While DeSantis may not agree with topics in this course, that is no excuse to intentionally cover up significant historical events throughout African American history.

     The content being removed in this course is no different than other controversial subjects we learn about in required social studies classes. For example, in high school civics, the topic of immigration and acquiring citizenship in the U.S. is included in the course’s curriculum. This has been a politically divisive subject in U.S. politics for years now. We still teach this idea because there is an understanding that teachers are not to give a political stance on the subject; their job is just to educate students on its existence. Black Lives Matter and the other topics DeSantis got removed from the curriculum will be taught the same way as any other social studies class: by educating students on events throughout African American history, and not to push any sort of political

     It is also important to note that AP classes are electives and not required, so only students who are actually interested in African American studies will be taking this class. It is not fair for DeSantis to remove important parts of the curriculum just because he may not agree with them from a political standpoint. If DeSantis
really cared about educational value, then he would not be intentionally hiding certain parts of history from students who are eager to learn. 

     Regardless of DeSantis’s ban, it’s somewhat disappointing that College Board was willing to give up on their own curriculum so quickly. As an organization who is supposed to put the education of students first, the fact that they were willing to eliminate valuable course material to appease one governor should be alarming to any student who is seeking higher education through AP classes.

     An AP class typically takes College Board two to six years to create, but according to the pilot for AP African American Studies on the College Board website, it took them over a decade to design this class. Yet within a week
of DeSantis’s complaint, College Board was already cutting topics from the course’s curriculum.

     From what I have gathered, DeSantis’s ban on AP African American Studies was a rash decision that was made
in order to fit his own political agenda. With him being in a position of authority, it’s important that he sets his own beliefs and politics aside in order to understand the educational benefits of teaching certain topics. In addition, College Board should not be so quick to change their courses just because of one dissenting opinion. In order to make this class as beneficial to students as possible, all aspects of African American history should be studied, regardless if it is controversial. Even after college board watered down the content of this course, their changes did not satisfy DeSantis. In a recent news conference, DeSantis said that he wants to reevaluate the
courses offered by College Board, going as far as to say that he might get rid of AP courses in Florida altogether. In response, College Board accused the Florida legislators of slander, signaling that this fight is not over, even after
the College Board sacrificed the integrity of its original course.

     While I respect that College Board is finally standing their ground against DeSantis, I think that both parties are
losing focus on the most important issue of this debate. The more College Board and DeSantis debate over AP African American Studies, the more time it will take to actually get this course into high school classes across the country. Ultimately, it is the students who will suffer because we will be denied the opportunity to learn about this important topic in America’s history.

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