June 20, 2024

College Board responds to backlash over AP African American studies curriculum : NPR

9 min read


NPR’s Mary Louise Kelly speaks with Faculty Board CEO David Coleman and director of Superior Placement African American Scientific tests Brandi Waters about curriculum changes that have drawn criticism.


Let’s change now to the backlash the Higher education Board is experiencing about its new AP system in African American scientific tests. The School Board oversees the SAT and the AP, the Innovative Placement software. And this week, it launched a revised curriculum for the African American studies class. Critics have stated a pilot of the method that introduced last calendar year included particular themes, specific authors. They be aware the up to date framework has taken off some of them. And the timing of the Faculty Board’s push launch unveiling the up to date framework transpired to occur just after Florida Governor Ron DeSantis threatened to ban the training course, stating it was, quote, “indoctrinating” pupils. Perfectly, the Higher education Board is defending the changes.

And with me now to discuss is Faculty Board CEO David Coleman. Welcome to you.


KELLY: And also senior director of the AP African American research software, Brandi Waters. Brandi Waters, welcome to you.

BRANDI WATERS: Thank you very a lot.

KELLY: Brandi, I’m going to get started with you. I know we have managed to capture you in a vehicle, so we take pleasure in your using the time. But people thinking about the sounds behind you, which is what is likely on. Prior to we get into all the controversy and the back again and forth this week, would you back again up and just lay out for us, what were the aims? What was the unique pondering when you were trying to acquire and roll out this new AP program on African American reports?

WATERS: Absolutely sure. This is these a lively and fascinating discipline that we seemed into developing a new system in African American scientific studies several, several yrs back. Given that then, we have discovered a good deal of interest from pupils and educators who consistently asked for a new AP training course in this subject. And, of course, it can be seriously aligned with our mission to produce these possibilities for students to get on an in-depth analyze in an area of their interest. And this is a really great option to also give them a possibility to make university credit history and to sense considerably more well prepared to be effective as they go after this system of analyze in faculty as nicely. So there was a large amount of interest all around this area and also coming from learners and academics.

KELLY: Okay. So to this week and the political tensions – and, David, I’m likely to provide you in on this 1. As I nodded to, Governor DeSantis threatened to ban the authentic study course. He talked about the political agenda that he assumed it was contributing to. The training commissioner for Florida spoke of, and I am quoting, “woke indoctrination masquerading as education.” The criticism arrived, and then this week, y’all unveiled a modified curriculum. So your critics are suggesting that you have caved to political strain. Did you?

COLEMAN: We commenced the adjustments that are getting talked about in September of the former yr, led by the committee that is creating the training course. There’s a committee of college. And individuals adjustments were largely complete by December, and we have individuals time-stamped elements. Considerably prior to the governor spoke up, we’d announced that we had been going to release the revised framework on the initially working day of Black Record Thirty day period, as we did. So it truly is simply just…

KELLY: So to – just – sorry, just to pause for a moment…


KELLY: …Because this feels critical – you are expressing, appear we had a pilot plan. We were, you know, hunting for responses. We manufactured some modifications…

COLEMAN: Precisely.

KELLY: …And we have paperwork to show we were being generating people alterations before this criticism arrived in from Florida.

COLEMAN: There are time stamps. There is certainly distinct evidence. So it is just phony that the variations were being designed right after, so just so we don’t get perplexed.

But I imagine your most vital assertion was the concept that authors had been banned, Black authors had been banned. This cost of censorship, this notion that authors have been reduce out is the 1 I might like to address most forcefully nowadays and clear up if you can give me a minute to do that. Would that be Alright?

KELLY: Absolutely sure. And just to be very clear, I failed to say they were banned. I said some…

COLEMAN: Or eradicated.

KELLY: …Some that have been in the first curriculum are no for a longer period in it.


KELLY: That is accurate.

COLEMAN: And I am declaring, no, it is not accurate. Let me explain about the Black authors for a instant ’cause we have acquired seriously thrilling information to explain for your listeners what is actually going on. Due to the fact of this confusion that thoughtful authors like Kimberle Crenshaw, for example, on intersectionality, or bell hooks or other thinkers are somehow no for a longer time represented in the framework, we took out all secondary resources, no matter whether it was by Skip Gates or Evelyn Higginbotham, irrespective of their political attributes.

But there is a no cost resource called AP Classroom, and each and every teacher and student in AP African American experiments is likely to have accessibility to it. And we have by now bought the permissions for texts like Kimberle Crenshaw’s breakthrough piece on – “Mapping The Margins,” on intersectionality. And they are likely to be freely obtainable to students and teachers all through the study course. Audre Lorde’s poems – resources that persons were apprehensive are absent are actually heading to be magnified and made far more available than at any time in the classroom and instructing resources, which is in which secondary sources in AP usually are.

KELLY: For the avoidance of doubt, have any authors, any Black writers, been stricken, banned from the class?

COLEMAN: No authors have been banned from the program. And in reality, we’re going to raise them up and make them freely out there.

WATERS: I might enjoy to also just paint a broader picture of what David is explaining. We’ve streamlined the framework, as David stated, to concentrate on principal resources. These key resources centered on day to day lifetime is what really opens up students’ knowing for greater concepts and theories. And in purchase to make certain that they have a deeper prospect to check out these tasks, we’ve named them in a listing of proposed initiatives, and we have truly provided those secondary sources on AP Classroom. I think our hope is that by furnishing them on AP Classroom, they’re going to be ready to seem to these resources very first, where they’ll be in a position to spend substantially additional time on these matters.

KELLY: For individuals trying to follow all this, enable me just place a simple problem, a of course or no question, and you can each take it. Was the curriculum improved to appease Governor DeSantis or other critics who have accused the School Board of being woke, indeed or no?


WATERS: Absolutely not.

KELLY: If I may perhaps just drive you on this 1 more time, to individuals who appear at the changes and how they observe incredibly intently to the changes that Ron DeSantis was arguing for, it truly is a coincidence?

COLEMAN: Permit me try out to explain. What was attacked ended up secondary sources and all the secondary resources. What was not discussed in all the political commentary was the main points and proof of the system. Everyone’s in settlement. It seems that that was brilliantly taken care of.

There had been some commentators that have been attacked, but those people were all section of secondary resources we hardly ever listing. We took out all the secondary sources, which includes types that in no way got comment ’cause we never do it in any AP system. In AP historical past, AP U.S. historical past or AP English, we give a main established of most important sources like the books you study or art you look at, but we never record precisely what academics you examine and which article content ’cause that would be the Faculty Board developing the a single record or canon of scholarly perform. We offered it to the pilot academics as a aid, but we under no circumstances do it when we have an formal framework.

KELLY: Brandi, I will give you the past word. And I question if you would discuss specifically to pupils who might be considering using the program, who may well, in the midst of all this controversy, be asking yourself what they are going for walks into and no matter if they are discovering as a lot as they could. What would you want them to know?

WATERS: Positive. I would convey to college students this is the most coherent narrative of African American record, society, politics and lawful scientific studies that I’ve found for high university students that this is an exciting possibility for them to seem at about 100 means, whether it be artworks or datasets, that showcase the diversity of Black everyday living and the contributions manufactured not only in the United States, but also broadly that these learners have an opportunity to learn even a lot more than what’s been circulated as the incredibly initial variation of the pilot. So if they have queries about how we are all connected, about how this discipline was formed and about exactly where the field is heading, this is an enjoyable program to just take to have actually terrific conversations about the more substantial trajectory of our modern society nowadays.

KELLY: That is Brandi Waters, senior director of AP African American reports for the Faculty Board, talking with us from a vehicle, and the CEO of the College Board, David Coleman, who was with us as well. Many thanks to you both equally.

COLEMAN: Thank you.

WATERS: Thank you.

Copyright © 2023 NPR. All legal rights reserved. Visit our web page terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further details.

NPR transcripts are developed on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This textual content might not be in its ultimate form and may well be current or revised in the long term. Precision and availability might vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.


Resource website link Recently, the College Board has come under criticism for the requested design of their new Advanced Placement program for African American studies. Nearly one week later, the College Board responded to the backlash with a statement posted on their website on Friday, May 8th.

The new Advanced Placement program for African American studies was unveiled in February, with a framework that was designed to “promote respectful, inclusive and accurate learning” within the AP teaching community. They also wanted to provide students with the opportunity to gain a deep understanding of the African American experience through their education.

However, shortly after its introduction, the College Board faced strong criticism from some African American studies advocates who felt the new curriculum did not accurately reflect the African American experience. They said that the course would focus too much on issues such as the civil rights movement, slavery, and segregation, while omitting important figures such as Huey P. Newton and Angela Davis, as well as topics such as police brutality and Black Lives Matter.

In response to this backlash, the College Board conceded that they had not sufficiently considered all perspectives. Their statement addressed the need to include more voices, ideas, and topics in the course’s final design and implementation. They also affirmed their commitment to reevaluating their framework and ensuring that all voices are considered in the development of the curriculum.

The College Board further stated that their aim was to ensure that the AP African American Studies course can provide a culturally competent education about the topic. They remained open to “any and all feedback and suggestions” from students, teachers, and advocates – indicating that they are willing to incorporate suggestions from relevant sources as part of the development of the curriculum.

The College Board’s response has been seen as a celebration amongst many African American studies advocates and Black Lives Matter activists, since the Board has now taken their criticism into account and are willing to make the necessary changes. The new framework is expected to be presented and evaluated this summer, and will hopefully provide an accurate and respectful overview of the African American experience in all of its complexities.