College Board’s AP African American Studies


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During this time, one many pressing issues facing the country have been politicized such as climate change, social justice and the COVID-19 pandemic. In many cases, the debates surrounding these topics have shifted away from what to do in response, but are now focused on what the facts are, to begin with. We live in a world where information is easier to get than ever, but each political party has its own set of facts. Given the power in setting a narrative and controlling information, politicians have focused on education, with Democrats and Republicans fighting over what is taught in schools.

In 2021, the College Board announced their new AP African American studies course that would be piloted with schools. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and the Florida Department of Education criticized the course saying that it was “inexplicably contrary to Florida law and significantly lacks educational value.” In the remarks DeSantis made about educational reform he stated that his goal was to prevent the promotion of “ideological conformity” and instead focus on “academic excellence.”

Ideological conformity is an issue simply because it prevents people from thinking for themselves, and it is our wealth of unique perspectives and ideals that make us good students. However, unless teachers are commanding students to believe certain material or are presenting the material in a biased way, they are not promoting ideological conformity. In fact, if the teacher is merely presenting the students with systems of thought and ideas that are new to them, they are actually expanding the student’s knowledge and creating a better-versed and well-rounded student. For example, we learn about communism in school not to be indoctrinated but to understand how malicious leaders can subvert a promise of freedom to take over a country, and by understanding the methods we avoid similar mistakes and prevent history from repeating itself. Even if a student does not find the framework of Critical Race Theory compelling, it is important for the student to know that that is the lens through which many people see our country, and be better equipped to interact with people who hold to that theory. 

Another thing that DeSantis criticized in regard to CRT is that it “promotes activism.” While it has become a buzzword over the last few decades, political activism really just means to be aware and politically involved, to vote for what you think is right. DeSantis, if he were being honest, wants political activism; he was only elected to his office by people being politically active. In a country where voter turnout has dwindled, activism is what we need. It can be activism to uphold the constitution, protect the individual rights of citizens, or to protect the most vulnerable people in America, but the activism needs to happen.

In an increasingly divided country we seem to be only expanding the distance between people. We should focus our efforts on understanding each other, and the numerous perspectives that make our unique country what it is. Finally, with that knowledge as responsible citizens, we need to go out and vote for our ideals, political activism is not the enemy it is the solution.