AP Black history class changed after criticism from DeSantis, conservatives : NPR

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Emmitt Glynn teaches AP African American studies to a group of Baton Rouge Magnet High School students on Jan. 30 in Baton Rouge, La. It was one of 60 schools across the country to test the new course.

Stephen Smith/AP

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Stephen Smith/AP

Emmitt Glynn teaches AP African American studies to a group of Baton Rouge Magnet High School students on Jan. 30 in Baton Rouge, La. It was one of 60 schools across the country to test the new course.

Stephen Smith/AP

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — The official curriculum for a new Advanced Placement course on African American studies that was released Wednesday cuts some components that have drawn criticism from conservatives including Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who has threatened to ban the -class in his state.

In the new framework, topics including Black Lives Matter and queer life are not part of the exam. These are included only on a sample list of project topics that states and school systems can choose from for assignments.

The course is currently being tested in 60 schools across the United States, and the official materials are intended to guide its expansion to hundreds of additional high schools in the next academic year. The College Board, which oversees AP courses, said the developers consulted with professors from more than 200 colleges, including several historically Black institutions.

The rejection of the course by DeSantis, a Republican, has sparked a new political debate about how schools teach about race.

In January the state released a chart that said the course promotes the idea that modern American society oppresses Black people, other minorities and women, includes a chapter on “Black Queer Studies” that the administration finds inappropriate, and uses articles from critics of capitalism. The Florida Department of Education told the College Board it will suspend the course unless changes are made.

DeSantis, a possible Republican presidential candidate in 2024, said he was blocking the course in Florida because he pushes a political agenda.

“In the state of Florida, our education standards not only do not prevent, but require the teaching of Black history, all the important things. That is part of our core curriculum,” DeSantis said at a conference of -news last week. “We want education and not indoctrination.”

In a written statement Wednesday, College Board CEO David Coleman said the course is “a relentless encounter with the facts and evidence of African American history and culture.”

“No one is excluded from this course: the Black artists and inventors whose achievements have come to light; the Black women and men, including gay Americans, who played central roles in the Civil Rights movements; and people of faith from all backgrounds who contributed. for the causes against slavery and Civil Rights. Everyone shows up,” he said.

Among the schools running the new course is Baton Rouge Magnet High School in Louisiana. So many students were interested in the course at the Baton Rouge high school, Emmitt Glynn is teaching two classes, instead of just the one he originally planned.

Earlier this week, his students read selections from “The Wretched of the Earth” by Frantz Fanon, which deals with the violence inherent in colonial societies. In a lively discussion, students connected the text to what they had learned about the conflict between colonizers and Native Americans, the war in Ukraine and police violence in Memphis, Tennessee. .

“We were covering the scale from the shores of Africa to where we are now in the 1930s, and we will continue to go throughout history,” Glynn said. He said he was proud to see the connections his students are making between the past and now.

For Malina Ouyang, 17, taking the class helped fill in the gaps in what she was taught. “Taking this class,” she said, “I realized how much is not said in other classes.”

Matthew Evans, aged 16, said the class educated him on a multitude of perspectives on Black history. He said the political controversy is just a “distraction.”

“Any time you want to try to silence something, you’re only going to make someone want to learn about it even more,” he said.

The College Board offers AP courses across the academic spectrum, including math, science, social studies, foreign languages ​​and the arts. The courses are optional. Taught at a college level, students who score high enough on the final exam usually earn course credit at their university.

The African American studies course is divided into four units: the origins of the African diaspora; freedom, slavery and resistance; the practice of freedom; and movements and debates.

In Malcolm Reed’s class at St. John’s High School. Amant in Louisiana, where he teaches an AP class, tries to keep in mind how the material and discussions might affect students.

“I give them the information and I’ve seen the light bulbs go off. I ask them, ‘How does it affect you? How do you feel when you learn this?’ ” he said. “It’s also new to me, and I’m taking it in stride. We’re not just learning history, we’re making history.”

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