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College Board claps back at Florida over Black history course

The College Board says the revised curriculum for its AP course on African American history did not come in response to pressure from Florida officials.


A month after Florida’s Republican-led Department of Education, backed by Gov. Ron DeSantis, moved to ban the curriculum for an Advanced Placement course on African American history over its purported lack of “educational value,” the group responsible for the course is trying to correct the record. 

The College Board has been under fire from Black scholars and others concerned with educational freedom ever since a recent report by The New York Times said the organization had revised the AP course’s curriculum after criticism from the Republican governor. The new curriculum removed certain topics or made their study optional, such as the Black Lives Matter movement and Kimberlé Crenshaw’s work on “intersectionality.” The curriculum now includes “Black conservatism,” a seeming olive branch to DeSantis. 

On Friday, the College Board tried to address the criticism. 

In a post on its website, the organization said it regrets that it didn’t immediately respond to Florida officials’ claims that the original course lacked educational value. 

“Our failure to raise our voice betrayed Black scholars everywhere and those who have long toiled to build this remarkable field,” the College Board wrote

The post also took issue with the Times’ report saying that contemporary topics like Black Lives Matter and intersectionality being moved to an optional portion of the course amounted to being “downgraded.” (Note: A senior vice president for the College Board called the Times’ framing “cynical” during an interview with Joy Reid on “The ReidOut” last week.)

“Our lack of clarity allowed the narrative to arise that political forces had ‘downgraded’ the role of these contemporary movements and debates in the AP class,” the College Board wrote. “The actual pilot course materials teachers used were completed on April 29, 2022 — far prior to any pushback.”

The College Board also said Florida had leaked a letter that gave the impression that the organization had made changes to satisfy the state. 

Florida officials “claimed that we removed terms like ‘systemic marginalization’ and ‘intersectionality’ at their behest. This is not true,” the College Board wrote. “The notion that we needed Florida to enlighten us that these terms are politicized in several states is ridiculous.”

The College Board is in a dilemma as an educational institution. This isn’t the first time the organization has been accused of whitewashing its Advanced Placement courses to satisfy conservative angst. And though the organization clearly wants to tout its independence, its legitimacy is being called into question.

Stay tuned to “The ReidOut” every night at 7 p.m. ET. Hopefully, someone from the College Board will return very soon to discuss these latest developments.