Florida Scraps Advanced Placement Course for Activism

National Association of Scholars

The National Association of Scholars (NAS) is delighted that Governor Ron DeSantis of Florida has acted to reject the College Board’s Advanced Placement (AP) African American Studies course. Governor DeSantis’ administration determined that the proposed course violated the STOP W.O.K.E. Act. Noted education reformer Stanley Kurtz has provided extensive evidence to justify that determination.

Most of the readings in the latter section of APAAS reject colorblindness in some fashion or other. The course even assigns writings by Kimberlé Crenshaw and Patricia Hill Collins, by any definition pillars of critical race theory. True, these readings focus on Crenshaw’s and Collins’s writings on intersectionality. Yet both Collins and Crenshaw view intersectionality through the prism of CRT [Critical Race Theory].

Florida was correct to reject the Advanced Placement (AP) African American Studies course. Every state in the union should follow suit.

Yet we should not limit ourselves to this conclusion. The College Board’s secretive insertion of a CRT-infused curriculum into the nation’s schools demonstrates the need for reform of far larger areas of education policy, including high school assessment and radicalized ideology and pedagogy.

The College Board has effective monopoly power over the advanced courses that allow students to take the equivalent of introductory college courses for cheap or free—and therefore it has an enormous power to determine the shape of the entire high school curriculum nationwide, since high schools work systematically to make sure their students are prepared to take AP courses and do well on them. The College Board has been politicizing ever wider amounts of its courses. State and federal policymakers need to remove the College Board from its effective monopoly by measures including:

  • Oversight hearings by the federal House Committee on Education & the Workforce, and by equivalent committees in the state legislatures, to investigate the politicization, test security, finances, and softening standards of the College Board.
  • Federal and state laws prohibiting that any money to aid state or local assessment expenses be used to fund assessments by a provider that promotes discriminatory concepts such as CRT in its curricula or its administrative policies.
  • State laws prohibiting public schools from adopting courses, either in the pilot stage or in the completed stage, that fail to provide full disclosure of their contents to the public.
  • State laws prohibiting course credit for any course shaped by a provider that promotes discriminatory concepts such as CRT in its curricula or its administrative policies.
  • Further support and institutionalization of dual-credit and dual-enrollment courses to replace the College Board’s Advanced Placement courses. State policymakers should charge committees to ensure that the standards and curricula of these courses are rigorous and unpoliticized.
  • Targeted governmental support for assessment providers such as the Classic Learning Test, so they can provide competing advanced placement assessments and end the College Board’s effective monopoly.

Large portions of academia have adopted radical ideology and pedagogy as their professional norms. The larger scandal of the African American Studies AP Course is the radicalization of African American Studies, along with disciplines such as Gender Studies, Asian American Studies, and Disability Studies. Florida policymakers need look no farther than the University of Florida’s African-American Studies program, which bases its professional studies on radical activism:

Community‐based learning: This focus honors the applied, experiential, and activist model from which Black Studies programs originally developed. Pedagogies of community service learning and advocacy scholarship are central to the engaged nature of the program.

State policymakers should consider defunding any program that dedicates itself to policy change on the “activist model.” It does not seem likely that any lesser measure will restore disciplines such as African American Studies to the disengaged inquiry into the truth.

Any African American Studies course worth its salt ought to include the poet Dudley Randall’s “A Poet is Not a Jukebox.”

Telling a Black poet what he ought to write
Is like some Commissar of Culture in Russia telling a poet
He'd better write about the new steel furnaces in the Novobigorsk region,
Or the heroic feats of Soviet labor in digging the trans-Caucasus Canal,
Or the unprecedented achievement of workers in the sugar beet industry
who exceeded their quota by 400 percent (it was later discovered to
be a typist’s error). …

A poet is not a jukebox.
A poet is not a jukebox.
I repeat, A poet is not a jukebox for someone to shove a quarter in his ear
and get the tune they want to hear,
Or to pat on the head and call “a good little Revolutionary,”
Or to give a Kuumba Liberation Award.

The College Board’s African American Studies AP Course doesn’t want to educate students; it wants to turn them into jukeboxes. No government in America, not federal, state, or local, should give money to the jukebox programmers who pretend they’re in the business of education.

Photo by Meadow Marie on Unsplash

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