Dear Commons Community,
The Arkansas Department of Education is prohibiting high school students from receiving credit toward graduation for taking AP African American Studies, according to multiple reports.
The newly offered course has been criticized by conservatives across the country as some Republicans, such as Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a 2024 presidential candidate, wage a culture war against “critical race theory” and “wokeness” that is playing out in schools.
On her first day in office, Arkansas Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders (R) implemented a law that barred “teaching that would indoctrinate students with ideologies, such as [critical race theory].”
As such, the Department of Education called the AP African American Studies course “indoctrination.”
“The department encourages the teaching of all American history and supports rigorous courses not based on opinions or indoctrination,” Kimberly Mundell, a spokesperson for the state Department of Education, told USA Today on Tuesday.
As The Arkansas Times reported, state officials reached out to teachers directly by phone to inform them of the change, telling them that they could still teach the course. But students would be required to pay the $98 fee themselves to take the AP final exam to earn college credit, which the schools would have paid. And students also will not receive the bump to their grade point average that would normally occur with AP courses.
“We share in their surprise, confusion, and disappointment at this new guidance that the course won’t count toward graduation credits or [be] weighted the same as other AP courses offered in the state,” the College Board said Tuesday, according to USA Today.
The course is still a pilot program. Arkansas offered it in one school last year and was set to offer it in six schools this school year.
The Little Rock School District — home of Central High School, an epicenter in the battle for desegregation in 1957 — said that it will continue to offer the course, The Washington Post reported yesterday.
We would not expect anything different in a state that has Sarah Huckabee Sanders as its governor.