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Changes are coming to AP African American Studies course that’s faced criticism from Florida governor

<i>RJ Sangosti/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post/Getty Images</i><br/>Books are piled up in the classroom for students taking AP African-American Studies at Overland High School on November 1
Denver Post via Getty Images
RJ Sangosti/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post/Getty Images
Books are piled up in the classroom for students taking AP African-American Studies at Overland High School on November 1

By Kelly McCleary and Tina Burnside, CNN

The College Board is making changes to the framework of its Advanced Placement African American Studies course for high school students amid criticism from Florida’s influential Republican governor and others who have accused the program of imposing a “political agenda.”

The board, a non-profit that oversees AP coursework and administers the SAT college admissions test, didn’t specify what would change about the course, saying details would be determined in the coming months.

“We are committed to providing an unflinching encounter with the facts and evidence of African American history and culture. To achieve that commitment, we must listen to the diversity of voices within the field,” the board said Monday in a statement.

The announcement follows the board’s engagement in a public spat with Gov. Ron DeSantis — a potential front-runner for the 2024 GOP presidential nomination — and Florida’s Department of Education, which this year rejected a preliminary pilot version of the class, claiming it “lacks educational value” and violates a state law that bans the teaching of critical race theory.

Under DeSantis, who has used his fight against “wokeness” to boost his national profile amid a national discussion of how racism and history should be taught in schools, Florida has passed new legislation barring instruction that suggests anyone is privileged or oppressed based on their race or skin color.

In February, the board fired back, accusing Florida officials of “slander” and spreading misinformation for political gain. It also admitted making mistakes in the rollout of the course framework and said it should have immediately denounced the comments from DeSantis’ administration.

“Our failure to raise our voice betrayed Black scholars everywhere and those who have long toiled to build this remarkable field,” the board said in February.

The board nodded to the controversy in its statement Monday, saying, “In embarking on this effort, access was our driving principle — both access to a discipline that has not been widely available to high school students, and access for as many of those students as possible. Regrettably, along the way those dual access goals have come into conflict.”

A pilot version of the course is now being offered in 60 high schools and will expand to 800 schools and 16,000 students in the next school year, the board said. The first AP African American Studies exam is expected to be administered in the spring 2025, the board has said.

“Every day, there are more stories about how this course is opening minds and changing lives. Regardless of how many students take this course, each one of those students should have access to the full breadth and beauty of this discipline,” the statement read.

The Florida Education Department has said it had concerns about six topics of study, such as the Movement for Black Lives, Black feminism and reparations. Many of the objections were tied to the inclusion of texts from modern Black thought leaders and history teachers, whose writings the DeSantis administration believes violate state laws, it said.

After Florida rejected the preliminary course framework, the College Board released the official framework for the course with many of the topics DeSantis objected to removed. Under the official framework, students could study those topics as part of a required research project.

“The updated framework, shaped by the development committee and subject matter experts from AP, will ensure that those students who do take this course will get the most holistic possible introduction to African American Studies,” the board said in its Monday statement announcing changes will be made.

The-CNN-Wire
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CNN’s Nicole Chavez and Gregory Clary contributed to this report.

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