College Board appeases conservative furor over AP African American studies curriculum

AP African American Studies textbooks
(Image credit: Photo by RJ Sangosti/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images)

On Wednesday, the body tasked with overseeing the nation's Advanced Placement curriculum published its finalized educational framework for its new African American studies program, initially outlined in August. In a press release trumpeting the more than 200-page document, the College Board — which also runs educational programs such as the Scholastic Aptitude Test — heralded the course as an "unflinching encounter with the facts and evidence of African American history and culture" while acknowledging that the curriculum differed from the initial framework offered at the start of the school year with an "an overall reduction in the breadth of the course."

Among the material reportedly excised from the new framework are modules on contemporary topics like the Black Lives Matter movement, Black/queer movements, and works of notable authors like Ta-Nehisi Coates, and Columbia University law professor Kimberle W. Crenshaw. Rather than occupying a compulsory role in the curriculum and ultimate exam, much of the material in question has instead been diminished into optional research project topics, alongside an added option of "black conservatism." These "reductions," while given little overall attention in the College Board's announcement itself, have raised red flags among some educators and scholars who worry the new curriculum is a capitulation to a broader effort by Republican lawmakers to block schools from teaching topics that don't comport with their political ideology.

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