09 May 2023
The College Board is changing its new Advanced Placement (AP) African American studies course again. Over the winter, the AP made changes to the course that critics said were made because of political pressure.
AP courses are college-level classes that give high school students the chance to earn college credit.
The non-profit group College Board writes the AP courses. It is promising to give students an "unflinching encounter with the facts" in the Black studies course.
The announcement follows criticism that the course did not include the full truth about slavery reparations, the Black Lives Matter movement and other issues after pressure from conservative politicians.
The non-profit group did not say what the changes will be or when they will be made public. In a statement April 24, it said that the group's experts will decide the details of those changes over the next few months.
The new AP course has gained national attention in recent months. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, a possible Republican presidential candidate in 2024, said he would ban the curriculum in his state because he believed it pushed a liberal position.
The official curriculum for the course was released after DeSantis' administration announced a statewide ban. The curriculum downplayed some topics that had drawn objections from the governor and other conservatives. The College Board faced strong criticism from activists and others who were angered that the course may have been changed because of politics.
Critics said the College Board took out subjects including slavery reparations and Black queer studies because of political pressure.
David Johns is director of the National Black Justice Coalition. He said he thinks the College Board's latest announcement is an admission that it watered down the course because of politics. To water down means to make something less forceful or effective.
"We cannot, and will not, let the politics of fear and division dictate what our children are taught," Johns said.
In the 2022-2023 school year, the course was launched in 60 schools. For the upcoming school year, it will expand to reach 16,000 students across 800 schools.
David Canton is a history professor and the director of the University of Florida's African American Studies program. He said the College Board does the best it can to take coursework from colleges around the country and create a single curriculum.
"This course is not required so (high school) students make the choice," he said of the AP class. "If students are interested ... why don't we allow students to decide if they want to take the course — and not the Department of Education?"
If Florida does not permit high school students to take the AP class, Canton said there are fears that other conservative states might do the same.
The College Board previously said changes to the course were made before DeSantis shared his objections. College Board officials said it worked with professors from more than 200 colleges, including several historically Black colleges, in writing the course.
The College Board said that the course gives students a chance to study a subject that is not widely available to all high schoolers. It also said it hoped to offer the course to as many students as possible.
However, the nonprofit testing company said, those two goals "came into conflict."
I'm Dan Novak.
Dan Novak adapted this story for VOA Learning English based on reporting by The Associated Press.
Words in This Story
course — n. a series of classes about a particular subject in a school
unflinching — adj. staying strong and determined even when things are difficult
encounter — n. an occasion when you deal with or experience something
reparation — n. something that is done or given as a way of correcting a mistake that you have made or a bad situation that you have caused
indoctrinate — v. to teach to fully accept the ideas, opinions, and beliefs of a particular group and to not consider other ideas, opinions, and beliefs
water down — phrasal v. to make less effective, powerful, etc.
curriculum — n. the courses that are taught by a school, college, etc.
downplay — v. to make seem smaller or less important
allow— v. to regard or treat as acceptable