AP African American studies for high schoolers is offered for first time. Here’s what it looks like

For nearly 70 years the College Board has been running the Advanced Placement (AP) program for high school students to get a jumpstart on a college education and while courses have come and gone over time, the latest edition is sure to only add to the controversy surrounding a woke agenda in academics.

Following a pre-pilot program undergone from 2017 to 2020 between the College Board, Tuskegee University and the University of Notre Dame, the pilot program for AP African American Studies moved forward to be implemented in 60 schools across the nation. As outlined by The Hill, “The class will be interdisciplinary, meaning students won’t just learn history but also geography, literature, art, music, politics and film to provide a comprehensive view of the African American experience.”

While a full list of participating schools was not made available, locations in Florida and Texas were made known as participating teachers shared their experiences thus far.

Marlon Williams-Clark has been teaching the course at Florida State University Schools High School in Tallahassee, FL since Aug. 8 with a class of 25 students, according to ABC News. Himself a student of African American Studies in college, Williams-Clark explained, “When I found out that they were adding an AP course, it was really exciting for me because having the AP title on it gives it a certain level of ‘legitimacy.'”

College Board senior vice president Trevor Packer noted in a statement on the program that seeks to make the course available to interested high schools for the 2024-2025 school year, AP African American Studies “will introduce a new generation of students to the amazingly rich cultural, artistic, and political contributions of African Americans. We hope it will broaden the invitation to Advanced Placement and inspire students with a fuller appreciation of the American story.”

Williams-Clark shared that sentiment when he told ABC News, “It was a class that I felt like students would flock to and also a class that would help fill in gaps for things that weren’t necessarily covered in the U.S. history curriculum.”

Nelva Williamson, a teacher at Young Women’s College Preparatory Academy in Houston, Texas, voiced similar aspirations but broached the concern that will be held by many of looking at history through a particular “lens” rather than just recounting the facts.

“In Texas, the Reconstruction Era is kind of skipped over,” she contended to The Hill, “and it’s looked at through the lens of being a failure. But in my own study of Reconstruction, political strength came out of that era of time for African Americans, taking agency over not only their bodies but what they were going to do, and the development of black towns here in Texas, Oklahoma and Louisiana. I’m really looking forward to teaching that to give it a different spin from what our students have been told about it.”

At present, there is no set curriculum for the AP African American Studies course and, while it remains in the pilot phase, participating students will not be able to earn college credit if they take and succeed at the test offered at the end of the year.

The introduction of the course comes as school boards across the country have denied the existence of or pushed back against the inclusion of critical race theory and divisive, racially charged instruction in school curriculum. Under the leadership of Gov. Ron DeSantis (R), Florida, in particular, set forth standards prohibiting CRT.

“There’s no room in our classrooms for things like critical race theory,” he said in March. “Teaching kids to hate their country and to hate each other is not worth one red cent of taxpayer money.”

“So we will invest in actual, solid, true curriculum, and we will be a leader in the development and implementation of a world-class civics education,” DeSantis added.

On that point, Williams-Clark told ABC News, “Florida has always had state standards for African American history and literature and those are the standards that I follow. I think people also should get away from thinking that just because African American Studies or African American history or literature is being taught that it’s exclusively about race–it’s about an experience.”

Both Williamson and Williams-Clark denied, as has often been the case, that their courses teach critical race theory.


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