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AP African American Studies program excluded from graduation requirements by Arkansas education officials

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Last Updated on August 17, 2023 by Robert C. Hoopes

Title: Controversial AP African American Studies Course Barred in Arkansas Public Schools

[Location], [Date] – The Arkansas Department of Education’s recent decision to prohibit credit for the Advanced Placement (AP) African American Studies course in public high schools has left teachers and students in the state reeling with disappointment and concern. One school deeply impacted by this decision is Central High School in Little Rock, which played a pivotal role in desegregating schools and had planned to offer the course.

According to the Arkansas Department of Education, the controversial decision was made on the basis that the course, albeit intended to educate students about African American history, was not based on opinions or indoctrination. The move follows an executive order by Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders, which aimed to ban “indoctrination and critical race theory in schools.”

Arkansas is not the only state where efforts to control Black history education have been witnessed. Florida has also rejected the AP African American Studies course. However, supporters argue that the course is a powerful vehicle for teaching critical thinking skills and providing an essential understanding of American history.

Efforts have been made to address concerns regarding the course’s content. The College Board, managing the AP program, attempted to revise the course framework but faced significant backlash from academics and activists who saw the revisions as an attempt to water down its significance.

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A spokesperson for Governor Sanders echoed the concerns about the course’s compliance, stating that it may not meet graduation requirements and does not align with AP program rules. As a result, the Little Rock School District received notification that the state would only offer local credit for the course. In response, the district is currently exploring alternative options to ensure students still have the opportunity to benefit from this vital curriculum.

The decision has come as a devastating blow, notably for Central High School, where nearly 100 students were enrolled in the AP African American Studies course. The historical significance of Central High School, which played a crucial role in the Civil Rights movement, makes the study of African American history all the more crucial.

Critics argue that the barring of the AP African American Studies course not only limits educational opportunities for students but also perpetuates the marginalization of African Americans. The Arkansas Legislative Black Caucus has voiced their concern, highlighting the detrimental impact this decision may have on students and their understanding of their own heritage.

The AP African American Studies course was piloted in 60 high schools last year, with plans to expand its availability to more schools this year. With the recent decision by the Arkansas Department of Education, the future of this valuable educational resource hangs in the balance, leaving teachers, students, and advocates fighting to ensure that the study of African American history remains an essential part of the curriculum.

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