by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Last week’s rejection by Florida governor Ron DeSantis of the College Board’s pilot AP African-American Studies (APAAS) course has kicked up a controversy. Last Friday, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre falsely accused DeSantis of trying to “block . . . the study of black Americans.” In reality, DeSantis barred only this specific and very biased APAAS course plan — while inviting the College Board to revise it. Florida’s Stop WOKE Act actually mandates the teaching of a series of topics in the history of black Americans, from slavery, racial oppression, racial segregation, and racial discrimination, to the overcoming of these injustices, and more. So there is no question here of “blocking the study of black Americans.” The issue is what specific sort of curriculum a given state should favor.
The debate over APAAS has been complicated by the College Board’s secrecy. The College Board has steadfastly refused to release the APAAS curriculum framework or associated materials. Nonetheless, I obtained a copy of the APAAS curriculum and wrote about it in September, laying out its socialist agenda and its promotion of Critical Race Theory (CRT). Unfortunately, no one could judge the accuracy of my characterization because the curriculum remained secret. I confined myself at the time to a “fair use” discussion of the framework, declining to publish the full curriculum out of respect for the College Board’s insistence that it was a “trade secret.” In the wake of the controversy, however, the Florida Standard newspaper has obtained a copy of the pilot APAAS curriculum and made it public.
In another new development, I have now obtained a copy of a second document, the “APAAS Pilot Course Guide,” a manual designed for use by teachers. Taken together, the curriculum framework and the teacher’s guide expand our understanding of the course in a way that confirms the wisdom of DeSantis’s decision.