The AP class debate isn’t just about the content of high school courses. Education is at the center of intense partisan debate, and the College Board’s decision to try to create a course covering one of the hottest subjects in the country — the history of race in the United States — could prove controversial. If anything, the debate over the curriculum underscores the fact that America is a country that cannot agree on its own story, especially the complex history of black Americans.
Given the politics, the College Board appears to be opting out of politics. In its revised 234-page curriculum framework, content on Africa, slavery, Reconstruction and the civil rights movement remained largely unchanged. But research on contemporary topics — including Black Lives Matter, affirmative action, queer life and the debate on reparations — has been relegated. These subjects are no longer part of the exam and are only offered in a list of options for the required study items.
Even this list, “could be completed by local states and territories” in order to comply with local laws.
The authors and scholars removed included Columbia University law professor Kimberlé W. Crenshaw, who touted her work as a “foundation for critical race theory”; Yale University professor Roderick Ferguson; Ferguson has written about queer social movements; and Ta-Nehisi Coates, the authors make the case for reparations for slavery. Also departing is Bell Hooks, the writer who shaped discussions about race, feminism and class.
AP exams are deeply rooted in the American education system. Students take courses and exams to demonstrate their academic strength when applying to universities. Most four-year colleges and universities award college credit to students who score sufficiently high on AP exams. More than 1 million public high school students graduating in 2021 took at least one AP exam.
But the row over the test has raised questions about whether the revised African American studies course is fulfilling its mission to mimic college-level courses that typically require students to analyze secondary sources and discuss controversial topics.
Chester E. Finn, Jr., a senior fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution, said the College Board came up with a smart strategy of not eradicating “sensitive parts” but making them accessible. options.
“DeSantis likes to be loud, and he’s running for president,” Mr. Bush said. Finn said. “But they’ve had feedback from all over the 60 schools they’re piloting. I think it’s a way of dealing with America right now, not just DeSantis. Some of them they might want to teach in New York, but Don’t want to teach in Dallas. Or San Francisco but not St. Petersburg.”