Political Pressure Pushes African American Studies back into the Margins. Did it?
High Schools & College Board (CB)
I was the Advanced Placement coordinator for College Board’s AP Courses at a time in a public high school. The African American studies course was not available by the time I retired in 2018.
What I do know is that students in CB courses are above the average learner. They want to think critically. They understand how to navigate a cooperative group culture. They are proficient to acquire knowledge above the fray. They sign up to remain in a course for its duration.
A window to drop the class is for a period of time. This allows some to determine if the course is right for them. Can they make it? More importantly, will they be able to pass a final test? Receiving a CB passing score often aids college admission. Who wouldn’t want to start a freshman year with enough credits to be a junior? More importantly who wouldn’t want to start a freshman year in college with more critical thinking skills than our current politicians.
The College Board is a political entity too. Colleges need our public schools as much as high schools want the prestige of AP ready students for institutions of higher learning.
NY Times Speaks Out
The Times published a piece yesterday, February, 1, 2023, about The College Board (CB) and the infamous African American Studies course.
Did the College Board buckle to political pressure from that guy in Florida? The CB maintains changes were not political. But pedagogical.
Historical accuracy is a right-winged political buzz phrase to hold onto shirttails. Apparently, power surpasses proper examination. The CB maintains “we can’t look to statements of political leaders”.
“BLM, affirmative action, queer life and the debate over reparations – downgraded” by CB. Those topics are what drives inside-outside cooperative learning. Debate. Discussion. You might even observe mind waves of critical thinking emit if you step into a classroom for an observation.
Unfortunately, back in the margins and shelved are notable topics for critical thinking. And placed back from the course are “expunged writers” like Bell Hooks. Read the list in the Times! The expungement wipes out a cadre of African American thinkers!
“The fracas over the exam raises questions about whether the African American Studies course, as modified, fulfills its mission of mimicking a college-level courses, which usually expects students to analyze secondary sources and take on contentious topics.”
Voices of truth about history are forced back into the margins.
Before teachers finished piloting the course, certain politicians critiqued, cried, and coalesced a raid. They believe they have been heard. What parts of critical thinking do they hope control? If you’ve ever piloted a book, weeks pass after implementation. Teachers collaborate to analyze content like sifting flour through a sieve. That didn’t happen. Control usurped a natural CB process.
Point for leaders:
It’s not over though. People of Color, Blacks, African Americans, LGBTQ, Latinx are out from the margins. We are off the shelves. We are in political places too. We are on school boards. We are creatively teaching historical accuracy in public schools. We are voices in the community. We do not shy away from purposeful racist whispers in organizations.
Leaders are in the mix. We lead by example with critical thinking. We lead to encourage others to do the same. Our charge is to clear-up the inaccurate stories.