One week ago, the news broke that Florida’s Department of Education (FLDOE) under the prodding of the Governor’s office, rejected the pilot course in the College Board’s Advanced Placement program for African-American studies of history and culture. Reaction came quickly, including this post from Grumpy Old Teacher (GOT). As the next week dawned, this story continued to develop beginning with an attempt by FLDOE to explain itself.

The problem as detailed by this chart is not African-American history. That the FLDOE and Governor DeSantis are okay with as long as it involves facts and dates from the past, long-ago events that they aver should not be interpreted, indeed, cannot be interpreted in our time because African-American history ceased with the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights bill, the 1965 Voting Rights bill, and other laws prohibiting discrimination in housing, employment, and other areas on the basis of race.

The concerns are about the ‘woke’ nature of the course as Governor DeSantis continues to sneer whenever he discusses it. It is not the history that is woke; it is the culture.

In his newspeak manner, DeSantis continues to redefine words to use them in ways outside of their customary meanings. In the past, this has involved what Critical Race Theory refers to, Social-Emotional Learning, and woke. Now he adds intersectionality to his list.

But this list goes further than a knee-jerk reaction to vocabulary. DeSantis’s ire is kindled by the emphasis on the culture, including a culture that continues to be impacted by its past and that continues to richly contribute to American culture overall. (Emphasis by GOT.)

The story went national. It was featured on all the major news outlets, including NBC, CBS, CNN, the Washington Post, the New York Times, Fox News, there are many more, but you get the idea.

Following that, Benjamin Crump, a prominent civil-rights attorney based in Tallahassee, held a rally at the State Capitol to announce his intention to file a lawsuit over the issue if the FLDOE does not reverse course and approve the course and introduced the three teenagers who would be the plaintiffs in the case.

Now is a good time to remember that Ron DeSantis does not care about being sued because it is the notoriety that he is after. With this rejection of the AP course, he has co-opted the national conversation about race two weeks before the beginning of Black History month. Lawsuits keep his name in the news. The fact that he loses most of them does not worry him. He achieves his objective every time–notoriety.

He wins. As much as it pains GOT to say it, DeSantis wins every time he pulls one of these stunts. Normally, the solution is to ignore him and his schtick, deny him the publicity he craves. But he is cunning and he strikes with challenging issues that are too great for us to do that. We have to respond, even fellow governors like Jay Pritzker of Illinois.

Governor Pritzker counters that Illinois will also monitor the development of the AP course, but to ensure that African-American history is told honestly and completely. Illinois will resist the attempt by DeSantis and his ilk to “dictate the facts of U.S. history.” Read his letter to the College Board here.

Lastly, the College Board itself weighed in via a letter to its member schools that it shared with its AP Coordinators at those schools. They announced that an official course framework would be released on February 1 to coincide with the beginning of Black History month. They denied that they were influenced by any government or political authority. They defended their process by which they worked with academic experts, educators, and students to develop a new AP course. The full letter appears below.

Dear members,

On Wednesday, February 1, the first day of Black History Month, the Advanced Placement Program will release the official framework for the AP African American Studies course. The official framework has been under development for nearly a year. It will replace the preliminary pilot course framework under discussion to date and defines what students will encounter on the AP Exam for college credit and placement.

We have worked and planned for this day for many months and will mark the milestone with a celebration at the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture on February 2.
The course is the subject of great interest, and we want to explain the process we have followed to get to this point.

To develop this official course framework, the AP Program consulted with more than 300 professors of African American Studies from more than 200 colleges nationwide, including dozens of Historically Black Colleges and Universities. The course focuses on the topics where professors shared a strong consensus on the essential shared events, experiences, and individuals crucial to a study of African American history and culture. This process was completed in December 2022.

To be clear, no states or districts have seen the official framework that will be released on February 1, much less provided feedback on it. This course has been shaped only by the input of experts and long-standing AP principles and practices.

When we share the course framework next week, the public will see the extraordinary stories, artwork, documents, and debates at the heart of AP African American Studies. It is a remarkable course that explores the richness and depth of African American history and culture. We invite everyone to read the framework for themselves when it is released; it is a historic document that deserves your attention.

Finally, we want to thank the many members of the AP community who are helping to bring this vital course to life. We pledge to all of you that we will honor their work and maintain our unflinching commitment to this course.

We hope you will join us in celebrating this historic achievement next week.

Advanced Placement Program

This announcement caused social media to complain that the College Board was caving to DeSantis’s demands. But we don’t know. This is an ongoing story and we await the release of the course framework on February 1. Only then will we be able to review it and see how the verboten topics in the FLDOE chart were altered.

One thought on “America: EBLM

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s