AP African American Studies on the horizon?

Hana Salay, Scribe Reporter

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When the AP African American Studies course curriculum was published on February 1st, College Board received strong opinions on the release. Schools across the country began to pilot a version of the course, and College Board was pleased to share the positive feedback that the course had elicited.

The proposed course, however, quickly became the subject of criticism by various pundits and politicians.  While some say that the new class fosters a deeper understanding of a vital perspective of our American culture today, others call it indoctrination that engages in race-baiting while pushing a political agenda upon young learners.

District 211 has yet to determine whether or not it will offer the course. Junior Schaumburg High School Junior Clark Easley gathered over one hundred signatures on a petition he created to implement the AP African American Studies course in Illinois schools.  

“More people would be aware of the complexities of African American History.  I hope that it could foster deeper discussions of how different cultures interact within our school,” Easley stated.

Although many within District 211 are keenly interested in implementing the course, College Board has “put very specific stipulations on where the course can be offered and taught,” stated Mr. Phillips, Social Studies department chair. 

Not all requirements can be met by all the schools in D211, presenting a roadblock in implementing the course. Even after the requirements are met, the course needs to be taken through a rigorous and timely admissions process.

“New courses (AP or not) take a significant amount of preparation on the part of the teacher.  This also worked against the course being offered next year,” mentions Mr. Phillips.

Additionally, as the course is still in its pilot phase, College Board has only offered the course to a select number of schools–excluding D211 schools in its process.

Among the loudest detractors, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and the State Education Department of Florida refused to implement the course in Florida due to chapters like “Black Queer Studies.” The class “significantly lacks educational value,” said the governor, contending that it imposes a specific political bias that aims to unfairly shape children.

“We do not accept woke indoctrination masquerading as education,”  stated Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis to the College Board in a heated dispute, criticizing the newly released AP African American course outline. 

College Board disagrees with Mr. Desantis, asserting that the course is based on years of work created by more than 300 accredited scholars in the black historical academic community.  Nonetheless, College Board released a new version of the curriculum on the first day of Black History Month, ostensibly for Florida. Black feminist literary thought, Black Lives Matter, and Black queer studies were all the units removed from the updated version of the curriculum in the pilot unit. 

Countering opposition to the course, junior Clark Easley believes that “Teaching different perspectives from different people’s experiences does not take away from Advanced Placement United States History course, but it shows a different experience.” He also thinks the Advanced Placement United States History course curriculum lacks density in the discussion of African Americans’ experiences within our modern society.

 “[The attack on the pilot courses is] a complete erasure and denigration of the contributions of people of African descent in this society and around the globe.” Stated Ford Foundation Professor of History, Race, and Public Policy, at the Kennedy School of Government, Khalil Gibran Muhammad.  He points the source of criticism to the opposition party formed in response to the Black Lives Matter protest movement. “[They aim to] cut off any further reading, discussion, or teaching about the history of antiracist struggles in this country and the contemporary movement for racial justice,” says Muhammad.

Officially, the course will not be available to schools until the 2024-2025 school year, after completing its pilot phase.  

“I believe all courses have merit and certainly this one does”  stated Mr. Phillips.  Any interested students will have to wait to see when, or if D211 will offer the course.

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