Arkansas Approves Removal of AP African American Course in High School


AP African American Studies courses will also not be eligible for college credit in the state.

Due to a new law that bans the teaching of certain topics, Arkansas is removing AP African American Studies from their high school curriculum.

The Advanced Placement (AP) Program allows high school students to pursue college-level studies in nearly 40 subjects.

CC Smith, one of the teachers of the AP African American Studies pilot course spoke to the Arkansas Advocate about how the course offers an in-depth curriculum. “The AP African American Studies course is designed to be interdisciplinary, with students studying history through different lenses, disciplines and resources.”

Jacob Olivia, secretary for the Arkansas Department of Education told the Arkansas Advocate, the class was deleted from the state’s Course Code Management System because it was “listed in error last year.”

She also added that since AP African American Studies is not a history course, they are unclear on how the course would articulate on a student’s transcript.

Earlier this year, Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders signed an executive order to “prohibit indoctrination and critical race theory in schools.” She also signed the LEARNS Act which restricts lessons taught on gender, identity, and sexual orientation in the classrooms.

The course removal sparked anger from education advocates, students, the NAACP and Democratic state lawmakers.

In a statement to the GuardianNAACP president Derrick Johnson called the decision “abhorrent” and an “attempt to strip high school students of an opportunity to get a jumpstart on their college degree”.

Former teacher and state Sen. Joyce Elliott called on state Board of Education members to step in and ensure the course will be recognized on the same level of other AP courses.

The Young Democrats of Arkansas launched a petition asking the education department to honor the class for full credit.

In a statement, College Board officials said they were blindsided by the decision. “On this first day of school, we share in their surprise, confusion, and disappointment at this new guidance that the course won’t count toward graduation credits or weighted the same as other AP courses offered in the state.”

Arkansas is the latest state to enact educational policies that target the study of African American history in public schools.

Florida’s department of education under Governor Ron DeSantis officially banned the course from that state’s high schools in January. DeSantis later criticized the College Board’s curriculum proposal saying that Black LGBTQ theory and intersectionality courses are “not us. He also described the syllabus as “indoctrination that runs afoul of our standards.”