Gov. Phil Murphy (D-N.J.) announced on Tuesday that AP African American Studies classes will be expanded to 26 schools in New Jersey for the 2023–24 academic year.
The course was introduced in 60 high schools across the United States this year as part of a two-year pilot program, with one of them located in New Jersey. Murphy announced the program’s expansion during a visit to Science Park High School with Newark Mayor Ras J. Baraka during Black History Month.
The course is the first new offering from the College Board since 2014 and has been criticized by the Florida government as offering little “educational value.”
“The expansion of AP African American Studies in New Jersey will grant our students the opportunity to learn about the innumerable ways in which Black Americans have shaped and strengthened our country,” Murphy said in a statement. “As governors like Florida’s Ron DeSantis prioritize political culture wars ahead of academic success, New Jersey will proudly teach our kids that Black History is American History.”
According to Murphy, New Jersey will teach its students the “full history” of the United States, including the ways in which black Americans have contributed to the country’s development.
“We will set an example for the nation by demonstrating to our future leaders that our country is the greatest in the world because it is a work in progress, a promise, and an ideal we strive to achieve,” Murphy added.
The Florida Department of Education (DOE) rejected an initial proposal to include the AP African American Studies course in the state’s public high school curriculum because parts of it conflicted with Florida’s guidelines.
Florida’s “Stop Woke Act” prohibits schools from teaching that people are inherently sexist or racist by virtue of their race or sex or that members of certain races or sexes bear responsibility for actions committed in the past by other members of their race or sex.
On Jan. 20, Florida DOE Commissioner Manny Diaz Jr. raised a list of concerns about the course’s content, including topics related to critical race theory, black queer studies, Black Lives Matter, black feminist literary thought, the reparations movement, and “Black study and black struggle in the 21st century.”
Diaz Jr. said in a letter (pdf) obtained by The Epoch Times that the course was “inexplicably contrary to Florida law and significantly lacks educational value.” The state ultimately informed the College Board the course wasn’t approved in the Florida Course Code Directory and Instructional Personnel Assignments.
But Diaz Jr. added that “should College Board be willing to come back to the table with lawful, historically-accurate content, FDOE will always be willing to reopen the discussion.”
On Feb. 1, the College Board released an updated version of the course that dropped several of the controversial subjects raised by the DeSantis administration. The College Board admitted that it had made some mistakes in rolling out the program while accusing DeSantis’s administration of politicizing the matter.
“There is always debate about the content of a new AP course. That is good and healthy; these courses matter. But the dialogue surrounding AP African American Studies has moved from healthy debate to misinformation,” the College Board said in a statement on Saturday. “We are proud of this course. But we have made mistakes in the rollout that are being exploited.”
DeSantis responded on Monday to the College Board’s claims about the AP course.
“The College Board was the one that—in a black studies course—put queer theory in. Not us—they did that,” DeSantis said. “They were the ones that put in intersectionality. They put in other types of neo-Marxism into the proposed syllabus. This is the proposed course. So, our Department of Education looked at that and said, ‘in Florida, we do education, not indoctrination.’”
The College Board’s original syllabus for the course, obtained by The Epoch Times, describes the course as an interdisciplinary study of African American experiences through authentic and varied sources. The College Board states that individual teachers are responsible for designing their curriculum, selecting appropriate readings and assignments, and utilizing resources that focus on the corresponding college course and appear on the AP Exam.
Patricia Tolson contributed to this report.
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