State education officials informed districts last week that students enrolled in the contentious Advanced Placement African American Studies course at public high schools in Arkansas will not be able to obtain credit towards graduation.
The instruction came as educators and students across the state were getting ready for the start of the new academic year on Monday.
Several high schools had plans to offer the course this academic year, including Central High School in Little Rock, which was formerly the focal point of the illustrious struggle to desegregate schools.
The department will not accept the course for credit, a state education official telephoned high school instructors on Friday, according to the Arkansas Times.
The Arkansas Department of Education’s Kimberly Mundell told CNN in an email on Tuesday that her office “encourages the teaching of all American history and supports rigorous courses not based on opinions or indoctrination.”
The education department’s action follows the signing of an executive order by Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders in January banning “indoctrination and critical race theory in schools.”
Additionally, it coincides with similar initiatives by Republican governors in other states to limit the content of lessons on Black history. The AP African American Studies course was denied earlier this year by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis because it covered topics including reparations, Black queer studies, and the Movement for Black Lives.
The College Board first tried to change the course structure, but the move infuriated academics and activists who believed that students ought to be taught the “full history” of the Black experience in America.
Sanders’s spokeswoman Alexa Henning stated in a tweet on Monday that AP African American Studies “may not meet graduation requirements and does not comply with the rules of the department’s AP programme like other vetted course(s).”
Henning said that “the course may not articulate into college credit” and that “students were not given an exam during the 22–23 academic year.”
She mentioned that students might earn credit for another course on African American history.
Arkansas pulls approval for AP African American Studies course
In a statement, the Little Rock School District said it had learned over the weekend that the state’s department of education would “only offer local credit for the course.”
In spite of the state’s decision, the district said it was looking at methods that would still let kids benefit from the course.
The statement stated, “At this time, we are evaluating the choices presented to us with the personnel at Central High School and will decide the following measures within 24-48 hours. Rest assured that we are making active efforts to guarantee that our pupils continue to receive a comprehensive education that incorporates various viewpoints and worthwhile learning opportunities.
Nine Black students who became known as the “Little Rock Nine” attended Central High School in 1957 to test the validity of the landmark Brown v. Board of Education decision, which ruled that segregated public schools were unconstitutional. A hostile White mob that opposed integrated schools met the pupils on their first day of class, and the National Guard had blocked the entrance.
Last academic year, 60 high schools launched the AP African American Studies course.
The pilot course will be introduced to hundreds of new high schools this academic year, and the first course tests will be administered in the spring of 2024, according to the College Board. For the 2024–2025 school year, the course will be made available to all institutions.
In a statement released on Monday, the Arkansas Legislative Black Caucus expressed “outrage” over the Department of Education’s choice. The caucus stated that “this furthers marginalises African Americans and denies all students the opportunity to learn about the special history and experiences of our community.”