Arkansas Public High Schools Exclude AP African American Studies Course
Controversial Course Not Eligible for Graduation Credit
The Arkansas Department of Education recently announced that students enrolled in the Advanced Placement African American Studies course in Arkansas public high schools will not receive credit towards graduation. This decision came as a disappointment to teachers and students who had been preparing for the school year. Despite plans to offer the course at Central High School in Little Rock, the department stated that it would not recognize the course for credit.
Education Department’s Stance
According to Kimberly Mundell, a spokesperson for the Arkansas Department of Education, the department encourages the teaching of all American history but does not support courses based on opinions or indoctrination. This decision aligns with Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders’ executive order to prohibit indoctrination and critical race theory in schools.
Similar Efforts Across the Country
Arkansas is not the only state facing controversy surrounding Black history education. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis rejected the AP African American Studies course earlier this year, citing concerns about lessons on reparations, Black queer studies, and the Movement for Black Lives. These efforts by Republican leaders in multiple states aim to control the content taught in Black history education.
The Course Counters Indoctrination Claims
Despite the department’s decision, supporters of the course argue that it is far from indoctrination. Little Rock School Board member and attorney Ali Noland emphasized that the course promotes critical thinking skills and allows students to interpret and form their own opinions on important topics. Noland believes that this course is an essential part of American history and should be taught to provide students with a well-rounded education.
Opposition to Revised Course Framework
The College Board initially attempted to revise the course framework, but this decision sparked outrage among academics and activists who insisted that students should learn the full history of the Black experience in America. Any attempt to water down the curriculum was met with resistance.
Impact on Graduation Requirements
According to Alexa Henning, a spokesperson for Sanders, the AP African American Studies course may not meet graduation requirements and does not comply with the rules of the department’s AP program like other vetted courses. Henning clarified that the course did not offer an exam during the previous school year and might not articulate into college credit. However, she mentioned the availability of another African American history course that does offer credit.
The Little Rock School District received the news that the state’s Department of Education would only offer local credit for the course. Despite this setback, the district is exploring options to ensure that students can still benefit from the course. The district is committed to providing a well-rounded education that includes diverse perspectives and meaningful learning opportunities.
Central High School in Little Rock gained national attention in 1957 when nine Black students, known as the “Little Rock Nine,” enrolled in the school to challenge the segregation of public schools. Noland stressed the importance of studying this history in a classroom at Central High School, which is a national historic site due to its role in the Civil Rights movement.
Expansion of the Course
Despite the setback in Arkansas, the AP African American Studies course was piloted in 60 high schools last year. The course is set to expand to hundreds of additional high schools this year, with the first exams scheduled for the spring of 2024. By the 2024-25 school year, the course will be available to all schools.
The Impact on Students
Nearly 100 students at Central High School were enrolled in the AP African American Studies course this school year. Noland expressed concern that this decision would limit opportunities for students, particularly in terms of college credit and having weighted GPAs. Only students who can afford to forgo a graduation credit for a yearlong course like this may be able to take advantage of the course.
Response from the Arkansas Legislative Black Caucus
The Arkansas Legislative Black Caucus issued a statement expressing outrage over the Department of Education’s decision. They believe that this decision further marginalizes African Americans and denies all students the opportunity to learn about the unique history and experiences of the community.
Read More of this Story at www.cnn.com – 2023-08-16 07:47:00
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