10 December 2023
High school students in the United States can earn college credits by taking and passing Advanced Placement (AP) courses. The classes, developed by The College Board, cover many subjects, including English, history, math, and sciences among others.
This week, the non-profit organization released a new set of ideas and skills, called a framework, for its AP African American Studies course. The latest version comes months after the organization was criticized for discussing course requirements with conservative critics.
Changes include more attention to ideas such as the Tulsa Race Massacre, Black culture's influence on film and sports, and discrimination in housing, known as redlining. The latest version will be used when the class officially launches at the start of the next school year.
The AP African American History course gained national attention earlier this year. At that time, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, currently a Republican presidential candidate, said he would ban the course in his state because it pushed political issues. Florida released a list of concerns it had with the pilot, an early version of a course.
In February, the College Board released its first official version of the AP course. It did not contain several subjects on the list of Florida's concerns, including Black Lives Matter, slavery reparations and several important Black writers.
The board was then widely criticized for giving in to political pressure. The new changes pay attention to some of that criticism.
Changes in the latest version
The latest version includes several important Black writers that were excluded, and written works about feminism and intersectionality. Intersectionality is the idea that race, gender, and class combine to create different levels of discrimination and privilege in society.
The College Board did not add back every subject that was removed earlier. The Black Lives Matter movement is still not included in the final test for the course. However, it is mentioned along with other examples and listed among subjects that schools could choose from for further discussion.
Nelva Williams is a member of the course's development committee. She has been a teacher for more than 40 years. She also taught a pilot class of AP African American Studies in Houston, Texas.
Williams said, "The updates are based on teacher recommendations, and changes coincide with the latest scholarship and resources used at the collegiate level."
Rashad Shabazz teaches several courses related to race at Arizona State University. He said the course provides students with the basics to understand the field of African-American studies. But it does not contain in-depth theoretical discussions that are more common at the college level.
Next year, the AP course will be available to all schools in the U.S. But it remains unclear how many will offer it. Holly Stepp, a spokesperson for the College Board, said they are pleased with the interest that has been expressed in the course.
I'm Gena Bennett.
Cheyanne Mumphrey reported this story for the Associated Press. Gena Bennett adapted it for VOA Learning English.
Words in This Story
course—n. a plan of study on an exact subject that includes many classes and usually leads to a test
redlining—n. discrimination in housing
reparations–n. something given, usually money, in recognition of loss, suffering, abuse or injury
privilege—n. a special right or better position given or available only to an identified person or group
coincide—v. happen during the same time