Rejection of AP African American History shows scary trend in American public education

Illustration by Tess Wladar

Kofi Mframa, Opinions Editor

The Florida Department of Education rejected the inclusion of Advanced Placement African American History in the state’s curriculum, citing the course is “inexplicably contrary to Florida law and significantly lacks educational value” in a letter to the College Board sent on Jan. 12.

Florida Gov. Ron Desantis said the course is too “woke” and pushes a liberal agenda, while other officials take issue with the course’s inclusion of Black Lives Matter, Black feminism and the reparations movement

As a result, the College Board released a revised version of the course on Feb. 1, removing most of the controversial subject matter and introducing “Black conservatism.” Though the College Board denies Florida being the reason for the changes, it’s not hard to see the state’s aversions to the course acting as an incentive to its change. 

This is no isolated incident. Florida’s rejection of the original AP African American History course is just another example of the ongoing trend of removing racially sensitive topics from American public education. 

The fanfare surrounding critical race theory, or CRT, served as a main catalyst for this dangerous trend of disinformation. CRT is a graduate-level, academic concept that examines systemic and institutional racism. Many conservatives were led to believe this course was being taught in K-12 schools when it was not. 

This discourse surrounding CRT began after the summer 2020 and the resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement. Many of its critics say CRT only widens the racial divide in America and teaches white people to hate themselves. 

It’s not only CRT that conservatives dislike; these people have an aversion to any discussion of race in schools. Anything that forces people to look at America through a critical lens, to acknowledge this country’s evil history of racism or to think introspectively about how one can be complicit in the oppression of others is said to have no educational value. 

This way of thinking only leads to our detriment. 

Many critics of racially sensitive topics in public schools believe that teaching students about racism or America’s racist history is some form of indoctrination. They believe that topics like these only politicize children and that kids are far too young to be exposed to these ideas.

If Black kids are old enough to experience racism, white kids are old enough to learn about it.

The removal of said curriculum is a calculated attempt at deradicalizing our youth and dissuading them from questioning an undoubtedly oppressive society. 

Students are starting to realize this.

More than 200 students walked out of an Alabama high school on Feb. 8 after school leaders told them to remove discussions of slavery and civil rights because it made one of the administrators uncomfortable, according to The Associated Press

Demonstrations like this show us the power of knowledge and the limitless capabilities of a community that not only acknowledges the past, but has a deep understanding of how it impacts the present. 

Once I left high school and began to learn more about the things I was taught regarding American history, I quickly realized most of the things I learned were half truths or outright lies. Facts were purposefully left out and certain things as to not make America the villain. 

If the things I learned in school weren’t even fact, I can only imagine the kinds of things being taught now, given the copious restrictions on racial or otherwise divisive topics. 

School is supposed to be a place where we learn. What good is it if we are too afraid to teach our children about the uncomfortable nature of our past? 

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