College Board ‘sets record straight’ about revisions to AP African American studies course

The College Board is coming out swinging against the DeSantis Administration and the Department of Education over the future of its AP African American studies course.

After a week of back and forth, the College Board is accusing the state of slander and exploitation.

In a letter posted late at night on Saturday, the board criticized the state Department of Education, accusing them of using this course to advance a "politically motivated agenda." 

It also felt the need to "clear the air and set the record straight" about the curriculum revisions released at the beginning of February.

Ron DeSantis speaking at an education press conference.

Ron DeSantis speaking at an education press conference. 

"There is always debate about the content of a new AP course," the letter began. "That is good and healthy. These courses matter. But the dialogue surrounding AP African American Studies has moved from healthy debate to misinformation. We are proud of this course. But we have made mistakes in the rollout that is being exploited."

READ: DeSantis administration blocks new African American studies class in Florida public high schools

Gov. Ron DeSantis has criticized the course and said Florida would not accept it without revisions.  The curriculum the College Board recently released showed some changes from the draft that the DeSantis administration rejected. The sections they objected to for being "woke" were gone.

Those had been intersectionality and activism, black queer studies, movements for black lives, black feminist literary thought, the reparations movement, and black study and black struggle in the 21st century.

But, in their latest letter, the Board said that wasn't true and that the state claimed credit for these changes.

READ: Critics plan rallies after DeSantis administration rejects AP African American studies course

"In Florida’s effort to engineer a political win, they have claimed credit for the specific changes we made to the official framework. In their February 7, 2023, letter to us, which they leaked to the media within hours of sending, Florida expresses gratitude for the removal of 19 topics, none of which they ever asked us to remove, and most of which remain in the official framework," the letter continued.

It went on to explain that - these important concepts were not removed- but instead-they focused the framework on providing concrete examples of them. The letter also noted the exchanges between the Board and the State over the rejected curriculum.

"We had no negotiations about the content of this course with Florida or any other state, nor did we receive any requests, suggestions, or feedback...We were naive not to announce Florida’s rejection of the course when FDOE first notified us on September 23, 2022, in a letter entitled "CB Letter AP Africain [sic] Studies." This letter, like all written communications we received from Florida, contained no explanation of the rejection. Instead, Florida invited us to call them if we had any questions. We made those calls, as we would to any state that says they have unstated concerns about an AP course. These phone calls with FDOE were absent of substance, despite the audacious claims of influence FDOE is now making."

Rows of books on a shelf in a classroom.

Rows of books on a shelf in a classroom. 

The College Board also stated in its latest letter that it regrets not denouncing the state sooner. They said the failure to speak up "betrayed black scholars everywhere."

It took full responsibility for not being clearer that the course outline did not include all the scholarly articles, lectures and practice schedules that will be part of the course.