January 24, 2023

AP African American Studies

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ administration has blocked a new Advanced Placement course on African American studies from being taught in high schools, saying it violates state law and is historically inaccurate.” AP News

Here is the curriculum for the AP African American Studies (APAAS) course. Florida Standard

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From the Left

The left criticizes the decision, arguing that students should be taught about historical injustices.

“Past racial discrimination still deeply affects Black people today, particularly in explaining their low levels of wealth; and some of the United States’ policy structures and systems still result in negative outcomes for Black people even though overt discrimination is outlawed…

“I often meet White people who have recently learned about, for example, the enduring effects of redlining who say, ‘Why didn’t they teach us this in school?’ In a society like ours where racial divides are so clear, the choice isn’t between talking about race or not talking about it. The choice is whether to have formal, evidence-based education on racial issues or to leave race out of education settings so that people are left to come to conclusions on their own.”

Perry Bacon Jr., Washington Post

“The so-called wokeness DeSantis and conservatives like him are fighting against is, simply, consciousness. Consciousness of world history and the ways societies have been built to benefit some and disadvantage others. Consciousness that marginalized people have feelings, and perspectives worth telling. Consciousness that self-entitled elites like DeSantis are exponentially more destructive to American society than any oppressed groups they seek to demonize.”

Ja'han Jones, MSNBC

“Contrary to what DeSantis may wish you to believe, research has shown that an inclusive curriculum improves academic outcomes for students of color and white students. Discussing concepts like system inequity does not [make] students resent one another—quite the opposite. Yet in a state that is 15 percent Black, African American Studies is a bridge too far. What is DeSantis afraid of? Why would he not want students to explore inconvenient academic concepts like institutional and systemic racism and the ineffectiveness of a colorblind approach?…

“Perhaps students will begin to question Governor DeSantis on why Florida still celebrates three Confederate holidays. They may also wonder why the state has 75 Confederate Monuments… Students in Miami-Dade may learn that Overtown, an impoverished section of the city, was once a relatively prosperous Black community dubbed ‘the Harlem of the South’ before city and state officials built highways right through Overtown, displacing thousands of Black residents and upending its business district…

Americans who are concerned about free speech should be terrified by reactionary government officials like DeSantis, whose answer to complicated questions is authoritarian censorship, book banning, and curtailing academic freedoms… DeSantis has been trying to tell us who he is. It's time we believe him.”

Jason Nichols, Newsweek

From the Right

The right supports the decision, arguing that the course offered a biased perspective of history.

The right supports the decision, arguing that the course offered a biased perspective of history.

“Students in Florida public schools are taught a good deal of African American history, learning about—and getting an appreciation for—the likes of Frederick Douglass, Booker T. Washington, Harriet Tubman, Mary McLeod Bethune, and many other African American leaders and historical figures. They learn about freedom movements, slavery, Reconstruction, and Jim Crow laws, all as part of state requirements for schools to teach African American history

“The pilot program seeks to have students read the pearls of wisdom that come from the likes of radical communist Angela Davis who, as a Black Panther, was on the FBI’s most wanted list, and later ran as vice president on the U.S. Communist Party ticket. Also included is the late radical feminist Gloria Jean Watkins (who went by the pen name ‘bell hooks’), also a Marxist… The DeSantis administration is right to request changes to the College Board’s pilot program before it can be implemented.”

Lindsey Burke and Mike Gonzalez, Daily Signal

“Overwhelmingly, APAAS’s approach is from the socialist Left, with very little in the way of even conventional liberal perspectives represented, not to mention conservative views. Most of the topics in the final quarter present controversial leftist authors as if their views were authoritative, with no critical or contrasting perspectives supplied

“The teacher’s guide purports to outline ‘debates’ over reparations, yet the so-called debates don’t actually involve arguments against reparations. By ‘debates,’ the guide simply means practical disagreements about who exactly should pay for reparations, who exactly should benefit, and the precise mixture of monetary compensation and public apology to be demanded. There is no disagreement about reparations as such. This is political advocacy.”

Stanley Kurtz, National Review

“The original reason for AP courses was to avoid making advanced students repeat the higher-level building blocks in college that some had learned in high school. Either a student knows entry-level college math or he doesn’t. Either she has basic proficiency in a foreign language or she doesn’t. And even in English or language skills, which is slightly less objective, an AP test can show whether a student already has mastered college-level use of grammar, vocabulary, and essay-organizing skills…

“Now, however, there are 38 (!) different AP courses. They range into far more subjective disciplines… The broader problem, then, isn’t just with the AP African American Studies Course. Wise policymakers and educators at all levels should restrict the AP smorgasbord to only core disciplines.”

Quin Hillyer, Washington Examiner

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