College Board to Revise African American AP Course Again, Admits to Cowing to Conservative Pressure

The change comes after the College Board in February announced it was eliminating a requirement that students learn some modern tenets of Black history under pressure from conservatives.

The College Board will revise its Advanced Placement course on African American history once again, it announced on Monday – an about face that comes after watering down the course requirements in response to GOP outrage over the material covered.

“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,” a message posted to its website said. “Regrettably, along the way those dual access goals have come into conflict.”

“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.”

In February, the College Board revealed its revised curriculum for the new AP African American history course, eliminating the requirement that students learn about critical race theory and other modern tenets of Black history, including the works of seminal Black scholars and the entire Black Lives Matter movement that forced a national reckoning with race and equity in the U.S.

The move came in the wake of mounting opposition by conservative politicians to the leak of a draft of the curriculum that would have required educators to teach those topics, along with Black feminism, queer theory and other politically divisive subjects that anger Republicans.

The backlash was driven in large part by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a likely candidate for president, who said that he would ban the teaching of the AP course if the College Board didn’t modify the curriculum. He blasted the leaked draft as historically inaccurate and said that it would violate a state law he signed last year that regulates how issues related to race and other politically fraught topics, like LGBTQ issues, are taught in public schools.

Civil rights activists panned the pared-back curriculum, but College Board President David Coleman insisted that it was developed over months by more than 300 African American history professors.

“We are committed to providing an unflinching encounter with the facts and evidence of African American history and culture,” the College Board statement said. “To achieve that commitment, we must listen to the diversity of voices within the field.”

The College Board said that its development committee and other experts are set to work over the next few months to make the changes.

“Ultimately this work must deliver a representative introductory college-level course, and that imperative will guide its development,” the statement read.

The College Board added that demand for the course is growing – from 60 schools in the first pilot year to 800 schools enrolling 16,000 students in the school year ahead – even as Republican-controlled states pass laws barring schools from teaching about race, discrimination and privilege.

“Every day, there are more stories about how this course is opening minds and changing lives,” the statement read. “Regardless of how many students take this course, each one of those students should have access to the full breadth and beauty of this discipline.”

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