The College Board announced that it will revise its Advanced Placement African American Studies course after activists and scholars accused the organization of kowtowing to pressure from Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R).
In a statement on Monday, the organization seemingly acknowledged that it had diluted certain subjects after taking feedback from conservatives in Florida.
“In embarking on this effort, access was our driving principle—both access to a discipline that has not been widely available to high school students, and access for as many of those students as possible,” they wrote. “Regrettably, along the way those dual access goals have come into conflict.”
The organization explained that a development committee composed of subject matter experts will decide how to change the course framework over the next few months.
The announcement comes nearly three months after the College Board released the curriculum for the course, which was revised after the organization solicited feedback from public schools in 60 cities as part of its pilot program. An early version of the course that was leaked back in September included the study of modern issues like the Black Lives Matter movement, LGBTQ issues and feminism, but the syllabus released on Feb. 1 stripped much of this subject matter back.
Florida’s Department of Education (FDOE) rejected the curriculum in a Jan. 12 letter stating that it “significantly lacks educational value” and imposes a “political agenda” on students. On Feb. 7, less than a week after the curriculum was released, Florida’s education department tried to take credit for the changes the College Board made. The College Board then issued a response to correct the record.
As it turns out, the DeSantis administration’s education officials had been in communication with the College Board from January to June 2022, in which the FDOE made inquiries about the work that it would later deem “absent of substance”.
“In the discussion, they did not offer feedback but instead asked vague, uninformed questions like ‘What does the word ‘intersectionality’ mean?’ and ‘Does the course promote Black Panther thinking?’” the College Board said in its Feb. 11 response.
The College Board’s Monday statement clarified that the organization hopes to maintain the integrity of the scholarship they’re introducing to students.
“The updated framework, shaped by the development committee and subject matter experts from AP, will ensure that those students who do take this course will get the most holistic possible introduction to African American Studies,” the statement said.