What a way to kick off Black History Month! The College Board bent like a pretzel after getting pushback from Florida Gov. Ron “anti-Black History” DeSantis, resulting in an Advanced Placement African American Studies course that is way less interested in Black history and much more concerned with what the governor of Florida thinks about Black history.
According to The New York Times, the College Board, which runs Advanced Placement (AP) courses, released its new and freshly scrubbed AP African American Studies (APAAS) curriculum—sans Black authors and scholars connected to critical race theory (CRT), Black feminism, and the historical existence of the Black Lives Matter movement.
But it did add in something special that Republicans can truly embrace: ”Black conservatism” is now offered as a special research project.
RELATED STORY: DeSantis’ decision to ban AP African American Studies course in Florida may haunt him
On Jan. 12, DeSantis wrote a rejection letter to the state College Board nixing the AP course, claiming it is “inexplicably contrary to Florida law and significantly lacks educational value.”
The College Board launched the APAAS pilot of the course in 60 U.S. schools, but conservatives pounced on the course, alleging it promotes critical race theory—a legal concept that has never been taught as a class anywhere except in law schools. CRT has been interpreted as “anything about Black people” by conservatives and now serves as a boogeyman to pass anti-Black education legislation.
So, the College Board went back to the drawing board and redesigned the course, despite the fact that scholars, such as Harvard’s Henry Louis Gates Jr., gave the course their full endorsement.
DeSantis announced his education reform agenda on Tuesday. Speaking in Bradenton, Florida, the governor doubled down on his allegations of indoctrination of students, focusing primarily on public colleges and universities.
“I think you have the dominant view, which is not the right view. The dominant view is the use of higher education under this view is to impose ideological conformity, to try to promote political activism,” DeSantis quacked, according to WFLA.
DeSantis continued by attacking “DEI bureaucracies,” calling them “hostile to academic freedom” and “a drain on resources,” a not-so-subtle reference to critical race theory and diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) programs.
He explained that his Stop W.O.K.E. Act was signed to stop “imposing an agenda on people.” He added that “they,” whoever “they” are, will “also do things like require diversity statements, is what they call it, but that’s basically like making people take a political oath.”
The governor’s office then handed out “Education Not Indoctrination” pamphlets to the media, explaining that moving forward, there would be requirements “rooted in the values of liberty and the western tradition.” Forgive me if I stop here to vomit in my mouth.
RELATED STORY: DeSantis throws serious shade at Trump while patting himself on the back
Head of the College Board David Coleman told the Times that the changes in curriculum were made for educational—not political—reasons.
“At the College Board, we can’t look to statements of political leaders,” he claimed, adding that the changes came from “the input of professors” and “longstanding A.P. principles.”
Coleman added: “We experimented with a lot of things, including assigning secondary sources, and we found a lot of issues arose as we did… I think what is most surprising and powerful for most people is looking directly at people’s experience.”
It’s vital to the College Board that the curriculum is accepted into schools. Although it’s a nonprofit organization, the Board made $1 billion in profit in 2019, over $490 million from “AP and Instruction,” according to tax-exempt filings obtained by the Times.
The Times reports that most of the historic content remains unchanged—slavery, reconstruction, and the Civil Rights movement remain—while the bulk of the erasures came in discussions of the Black Lives Matter movement, affirmative action, reparations, and LGBTQ life.
Black authors such as Ta-Nehisi Coates, Kimberlé W. Crenshaw—whose work is “foundational in critical race theory”—and bell hooks, who wrote primarily about feminism, class, and race, are all gone from the course.
Critical race theory scholar Crenshaw, a professor who coined the word “intersectionality,” argues that the AP course is “a corrective, it is an intervention, it is an expansion,” and “for it to be true to the mission of telling the true history, it cannot exclude intersectionality, it cannot exclude critical thinking about race.”
Revising or whitewashing history so that it fits a politically conservative narrative is not teaching history, and it does not serve American students. The roots of this nation are rotten. And ignoring that or attempting to erase it doesn’t change it, no matter how hard lawmakers like DeSantis try.
As Carter G. Woodson, Woodson, the son of formerly enslaved people, famously said:
“If a race has no history, if it has no worthwhile tradition, it becomes a negligible factor in the thought of the world, and it stands in danger of being exterminated.”