By Isabel Pulgarin
Maya Angelou and Malcolm X are among the authors removed from the AP African American Studies for high school students next year.
Following a rejection from Governor Ron DeSantis’ administration in late January, the College Board announced new revisions and cuts to the Advanced Placement African American Studies course for the next year on Feb. 1.
The new 2024-2025 curriculum outline cut back on black writers and scholars associated with Critical Race Theory (CRT), the queer experience, and Black feminism.
There are also cuts to political topics like Black Lives Matter. The movement was added beside “Black Conservatism” as an idea for a research project, and an “illustrative only” example that need only be included in the course at the teacher’s discretion.
The AP course for college credits has been in its 2022-2023 pilot stage since last August, taught in 60 schools across the country, including one high school in Tallahassee.
For many students across the state, this was a dismal start to Black History Month.
“Things like this always start small, it’s seeming a bit inconsequential at first but next thing you know it’s going to spiral out of control,” said freshman communications major Tiani Sankey. “This is a form of historical erasure. How can one learn from history if it is slowly being buried?”
The College Board, the non-profit that develops and administers standardized tests and curricula for college readiness in high school, responded to critics saying their revisions were not to serve the governor’s administration and appease the Florida Department of Education. Instead, their revisions were “substantially complete” in December—weeks before the department’s disdain was shared early February in a letter.
The non-profit has also since accused the governor of “slander” on Feb. 12 when DeSantis claimed the course “lacks educational value.”
The College Board said the discussions about the course “moved from healthy debate to misinformation.”
These changes are reminiscent of June 2021 when the Florida Department of Education banned CRT from public school classrooms in an attempt to shield children from curricula that, as Florida Governor Ron DeSantis put it during the announcement, will “distort historical events.”
Opponents of CRT like Governor DeSantis and his government appointees say students should not be taught that America is foundationally racist.
Along with the ban on CRT in schools came guidelines on instruction that say the lessons “must be factual and objective and may not suppress or distort significant historical events.”
Sophomore political science major Immanuel Mitchell said he could get behind a course like this if it is going to be an indepth study of the history of Black Americans, highlighting their successes and “how they continue to play a vital role in American history.”
“My main problem with these courses is they only focus on the struggles a group of people may have experienced or [are] currently experiencing and use it as an excuse to define those who are oppressed from the oppressors,” said Mitchell, who was featured as a panelist in CCSI’s Feb. 9 deliberative dialogue called “Race Talk in Florida: Bridging the Political Divide.”
Panelists discussed legislation like DeSantis’s “Stop the Wrongs of Our Kids and Employees Act,” or the Stop WOKE Act, which was passed into Florida law along party lines in March 2022.
The Stop WOKE Act, which went into effect last June, eradicates corporate and scholarly wokeness and ideologies of CRT and The New York Times 1619 Project - a classroom project focusing on the teachings of slavery and African American history, dating back to what’s popularly known as the first year slaves were brought to colonial America.
Fall 2022 marked the beginning of the AP course’s pilot program.
Twenty-eight public state colleges, including Florida Southwestern State College in Fort Myers, South Florida State College in Avon Park, and Florida State College of Jacksonville, vowed in January to follow the governor’s footsteps and reject “woke” ideologies on campus and in courses.
On Feb. 14, the governor also announced doing without the College Board and their AP courses all together. He said after talking with the state legislature, they will “re-evaluate” the vendor and consider others. The College Board is the most used in the nation by high schools and universities.
“I am glad that this type of discourse is gaining publicity through news outlets at exactly what the African American community is facing,” said Sankey.