College Board released the official curriculum for the AP African American studies course, which omitted controversial topics such as critical race theory and Black Lives Matter that were included in previous versions of the class, as reported in a Feb. 1 article by NPR.
These topics should not have been removed from the course because they give students a variety of perspectives on African American history and provide crucial lessons as they prepare to enter their college years.
This course has been particularly controversial in Florida. Gov. Ron DeSantis has been very vocal about his disapproval of its contents, saying that it violates the “Stop W.O.K.E.” Act.
“We want education, not indoctrination. If you fall on the side of indoctrination we’re going to decline,” he said in a Jan. 23 press conference.
However, these changes were not made in response to DeSantis, according to a Feb. 1 statement by the College Board.
The original material in this course is not meant to indoctrinate children. It is meant to teach students African American history through different perspectives.
The integrity of this course is especially important as many students do not receive a well-rounded education on African American history in their regular history classes. Only 8% of high school students could identify slavery as the main cause of the Civil War, according to a 2018 survey by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
It is important that topics like Black Lives Matter and critical race theory are included to give students an accurate portrayal of racism in all its forms and to show how it still exists and affects people today.
He said the students who will not have the chance to take the course to its fullest extent already have an understated understanding of Florida history by the time they arrive at college. They will no longer have the added perspective and research experience that comes with the course, according to Ponton.
By removing vital topics from the course, students won’t have as broad of a historical perspective by the time they enter college, assistant professor David Ponton said in a Thursday Oracle article.
“They’re going to miss out on that opportunity in the state of Florida and, when they come to the university level, they’re going to be behind their peers in other states,” he said.
The goal of this course is to explore the vital contributions and experiences of African Americans, according to the College Board website.
Despite this claim, they have decided to remove several of these contributions and experiences. These include works by Columbia law professor Kimberlé W. Crenshaw and feminist author bell hooks, according to a Feb. 1 article by Black Enterprise.
African American history is a complex and nuanced topic to begin with, so it’s no surprise that some of the lessons may be controversial. However, that’s no excuse to remove crucial moments in history entirely.
Becky Pringle, president of the National Education Association, believes censoring this material is directly harmful to students and that they deserve better from educators.
When we censor classes and whitewash lesson plans, we harm our students and do them a deep disservice.
I support the educators at Florida's state capitol today to demand complete and honest education for all Florida students. pic.twitter.com/4D6R9QkqoA
— Becky Pringle (@BeckyPringle) January 25, 2023
College Board should not have stripped the curriculum of this vital material. In order to ensure that the class provides a well-rounded view of African American history, those lessons need to be taught.