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AP African American Studies course finalized for next school year

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(NEW YORK) — The Advanced Placement African American Studies course that sparked controversy among some conservative lawmakers has been revised and was released by the College Board on Wednesday. The updated curriculum is now set to launch in the 2024-25 school year.

“This is the course I wish I had in high school,” Brandi Waters, senior director and program manager of African American Studies in the Advanced Placement Program, said in a statement.

College Board revised its curriculum multiple times as the program was being piloted in schools, and decided in April of this year to “listen to the diversity of voices within the field” to make final changes to the course, it said.

When asked Wednesday if these revisions were impacted by the criticism the course faced from some state leaders, Waters told ABC News: “We’d hope that every student that’s interested in taking this course has access to it. We really can’t speculate what any state would do.”

The course had initially rendered “too much essential content as optional,” Waters told ABC News, and the revision process brought “even more of these foundational perspectives from the field.”

AP African American Studies received intense public scrutiny from some conservative leaders, such as Republican presidential candidate and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who criticized the curriculum’s retelling of U.S. racial history.

DeSantis’ administration rejected the course in January, with the Florida Department of Education saying the version of it at the time was “inexplicably contrary to Florida law and significantly lacks educational value.” Several Florida students said they planned to sue the state if it refused to implement the curriculum and the White House criticized the state’s decision.

Florida, through the Stop WOKE Act, has restrictions on race-related education in public schools.

“If the course comes into compliance and incorporates historically accurate content, the department will reopen the discussion,” a Florida DOE official told ABC News in January. ABC News has reached out to the Florida DOE for comment on the new version of the course.

The Arkansas Department of Education also moved to remove the AP African American Studies pilot program in August due to concerns about whether the course would be applicable for college credit and whether it would be impacted by state race-related education restrictions.

The course reached 60 schools in the first pilot year, the 2022-23 school year, but its implementation has grown to cover roughly 700 schools and 13,000 students in its second year, according to College Board.

The course takes students through the origins of the African diaspora, the subsequent slavery and fight for freedom, the challenges and success of community development post-slavery, and the political and social movements that later evolved, according to College Board.

The curriculum will also mention major figures such as then-NFL player Colin Kaepernick, whose 2016 kneeling protest during national anthems sparked controversy, and critical race theory scholar Kimberlé Crenshaw, who founded the term “intersectionality” in the Black feminist movement.

Revisions to the course also included efforts to balance introduction-level topics with time for further exploration, create a robust and diverse source base for students, and align course content with college courses for credit, College Board says.

The course has been in development for three years with the input of nearly 300 African American Studies scholars, high school AP teachers and experts, according to College Board.

 

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