Social Studies

AP African American Studies: What’s Next for the Course

By Eesha Pendharkar — January 30, 2023 2 min read
Attorney Ben Crump, left, stands with the three Leon County, Fla., high school students who are threatening to file a lawsuit against Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and his administration over the ban of a proposed Advanced Placement course on African America Studies in Florida high schools, Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2023, in Tallahassee, Fla.
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Florida’s ban of a pilot Advanced Placement course on Black history from its high schools has drawn protests and threats of lawsuits, and a statement from the organization that oversees the AP program that it would not consider states’ input on the final course.

The course, which was piloted in 60 high schools, still remains banned in Florida for allegedly lacking educational value and being historically inaccurate, according to a letter Education Commissioner Manny Diaz Jr. sent earlier this month, informing the College Board that it would reconsider the ban if a few “topics of concern” were removed from the final framework.

Those topics include Black queer studies, which Florida’s Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis said is “pushing an agenda on our kids,” and “intersectionality and activism,” which the department claimed is foundational to critical race theory, and “ranks people based on their race, wealth, gender, and sexual orientation.”

Florida is also one of 18 states that have passed laws restricting some lessons on race and racism. Florida’s law specifically bans teaching critical race theory, or CRT, which is an academic theory that explores the systemic nature of racism. However, CRT has been misused by some Republican lawmakers as a catch-all term for a number of lessons about the history of racism, as well as districts’ equity initiatives.

But because of the CRT ban, Florida also told the College Board that the pilot framework of the AP African American Studies course is allegedly illegal.

Here’s what’s next for the AP course and Florida’s ban:

College Board to release final framework Wednesday

Since Florida sent its letter to the College Board announcing the ban, the organization has not addressed the ban publicly. Its initial statement only said that the final framework will be released Feb. 1, the first day of Black History Month.

However, in a letter to its members, which include districts and higher education institutions nationwide, the College Board effectively said Florida or any other state can’t weigh in on deciding the contents of the final framework.

“No states or districts have seen the official framework that will be released on February 1, much less provided feedback on it,” the letter said. “This course has been shaped only by the input of experts and long-standing AP principles and practices.”

Lawsuits threatened if Florida doesn’t rescind the ban

Civil rights lawyer Ben Crump has threatened to sue DeSantis on behalf of three Florida high schoolers if the state does not reverse the ban, according to an announcement he made last week.

“Are we gonna let Governor DeSantis, or anybody, exterminate Black history from the class?” he asked at the press conference announcing the lawsuit.

The NAACP has also threatened to sue. The lawsuits have not been filed yet.


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