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Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Arkansas becomes the second state to drop AP African American studies course

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Arkansas has essentially removed the new Advanced Placement (AP) African American Studies course from its schools.

AP courses offer a higher level of work to high school students, which can count for college credit. However, the Arkansas Department of Education announced that the African American Studies course specifically would not be eligible for college credit. This decision is a result of the LEARNS Act, a new law in Arkansas that significantly restricts teachings related to race in an effort to ban critical race theory (CRT) – an academic framework that emphasizes the role of race in history.

Conservatives nationwide have pushed back against various educational materials related to race. Arkansas Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders campaigned on such issues and passed legislation along those lines upon taking office. She expressed similar sentiments when questioned about her state’s handling of the AP course.

“We need to focus on the fundamental teachings of math, reading, writing, and American history,” Sanders stated in an interview with Fox News. “We should not perpetuate falsehoods to our students and promote this leftist propaganda agenda, which teaches our children to resent America and each other.”

The College Board, the organization that oversees Advanced Placement courses, expressed shock and frustration regarding the decision.

“On this first day of school, we share their surprise, confusion, and disappointment with this new guidance that the course won’t count toward graduation credits or be weighted the same as other AP courses offered in the state,” the College Board stated in a release. “Throughout the inaugural pilot year, we heard numerous accounts from classrooms about how this course broadened perspectives, changed lives, and provided a much deeper understanding of the country.”

It is important to note that schools can still offer the course; however, students will be responsible for covering the costs themselves, and the coursework will not contribute toward college credit. Several schools have already announced their intention to continue offering the course. One such school is Central High School in Little Rock, a school that ironically holds a significant place in Black history due to the integration efforts of the Little Rock Nine. Elizabeth Eckford, one of the members of the Little Rock Nine, criticized the state’s decision to eliminate the class.

“I believe the attempts to erase history are effective for the Republican Party,” Eckford said in an interview with NBC News. “They have some popular scapegoats among their supporters.”

Arkansas is now the second state to curtail the new AP class. Earlier in the year, Florida, under Governor Ron DeSantis, made a similar decision under their own anti-CRT legislation. Other conservative-leaning states have subsequently pledged to review the course.

Contact Indy Kids Winning Reporter Andrew Pillow at andrewp@indyrecorder.com. Follow him on Twitter @AndrewPillow.

Andrew’s work is supported through a partnership between Indy Kids Winning and the Indianapolis Recorder. Visit indykidswinning.com to learn more.

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