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Florida Helps Force Key Changes to Controversial Proposed AP African-American History Curriculum

AP Photo/Lynne Sladky

We've been all over this story from its early days, even before the Left inevitably picked it up as one of the endless DeSantis 'outrages,' to which they're addicted. We predicted it would blow up as a national story, and so it did. Our reporting and analysis added key context and revealed on important details -- and we watched with interest as the College Board pledged to revise its proposed curriculum for a nascent African-American history high school AP course after Florida rejected it, as originally presented. Based on one unit of otherwise-worthy course, there was, in my view, ample cause for concern about radical ideology being infused into instruction: 


Despite the overheated hyperventilation and a blizzard of falsehoods from critics (many of whom accused DeSantis of wishing to "erase" black history, even as the teaching of black history is literally required in Florida schools), it turns out that it isn't just right-wingers who've harbored serious suspicions about some of the ideological components of the proposed program. This is interesting:

Leon County Commissioner Bill Proctor, a Black Democrat, agreed with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, R., last week that a proposed AP African American history course that was rejected by the state's Department of Education constitutes propaganda rather than a legitimate educational curriculum. DeSantis blocked the course on grounds that it violated the Sunshine State's Stop WOKE Act that was passed last year. "I think it’s trash," Proctor said about the curriculum. "There is grave concern about the tone and the tenor of leadership’s voice from the highest spaces in our state being hostile to teaching of African American history," he noted, according to Tallahassee Reports..."Well frankly I’m against the College Board’s curriculum. I think it’s trash. It’s not African American history. It is ideology," Proctor continued. "I’ve taught African American history, I’ve structured syllabuses for African American history. I am African American history...." 

Following Florida's rejection of the program, the College Board vowed to return with alterations to the curriculum. They did so yesterday, retreating from the controversial first draft by significantly tamping down the politics: 

After heavy criticism from Gov. Ron DeSantis, the College Board released on Wednesday an official curriculum for its new Advanced Placement course in African American Studies — stripped of much of the subject matter that had angered the governor and other conservatives. The College Board purged the names of many Black writers and scholars associated with critical race theory, the queer experience and Black feminism. It ushered out some politically fraught topics, like Black Lives Matter, from the formal curriculum. And it added something new: “Black conservatism” is now offered as an idea for a research project.

The 'black conservatism' research project idea has set off hysterics in certain quarters, but it represents just a hint of balance in a curriculum that originally offered none at all (in its fourth and final unit), which was rife with suggested readings from progressive-to-Marxist thinkers. It will be important to read the fine print, and we'll see if the new version passes muster for Florida, but it undoubtedly represents a significant improvement. This looks like a political win for DeSantis, of course; more importantly, however, it's shaping up as a win for students in Florida, who are now closer to having the option to explore important subject matter, presented from a much less ideological perspective. As Rebecca noted, the College Board is insisting that they didn't make these alterations as a result of any political leader's rhetoric, which might be partially true (and some changes were apparently long in the works before Florida's decision). It's inescapable, however, that they must have revisited the proposal at least in part because one of the nation's largest states had said 'no,' with major looming ramifications elsewhere:

David Coleman, the head of the College Board, said in an interview that the changes were all made for pedagogical reasons, not to bow to political pressure. “At the College Board, we can’t look to statements of political leaders,” he said. The changes, he said, came from “the input of professors” and “longstanding A.P. principles.” He said that during the initial test of the course this school year, the board received feedback that the secondary, more theoretical sources were “quite dense” and that students connected more with primary sources, which he said have always been the foundation of A.P. courses...In another red flag, the College Board faced the possibility of other opposition: more than two dozen states have adopted some sort of measure against critical race theory, according to a tracking project by the University of California, Los Angeles, law school.

Florida has once again taken the lead in an important fight of national consequence, with DeSantis demonstrating a willingness to face and combat barrages of slings and arrows from furious leftists to notch victories and advance the ball. And I do mean furious:


I'll leave you with a few important factual refreshers on how so much of the tribal raging over this controversy, and the College Board's reversal, is rooted in ignorance and propaganda -- fed, naturally, by much of the "news" media:

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