AP African American studies class debuts in 60 US high schools

Dozens of U.S. high schools are offering an Advanced Placement course in African American studies this fall, multiple news outlets are reporting.

According to USA Today and NBC News, 60 schools nationwide are launching the class under a College Board pilot program, which the nonprofit announced in February.

“AP African American Studies will introduce a new generation of students to the amazingly rich cultural, artistic and political contributions of African Americans,” Trevor Packer, the College Board’s senior vice president of AP and instruction, told NBC News. “We hope it will broaden the invitation to Advanced Placement and inspire students with a fuller appreciation of the American story.”

The course, which covers several disciplines, likely will be offered at more schools in 2023, the news outlets reported. Organizers said any high school interested in the class should be able to offer it by 2024-2025, according to USA Today.

AP courses are college-level classes and exams that students can take in high school, the College Board says on the program’s website. Most U.S. colleges and universities “grant credit and placement for qualifying AP scores,” according to the site.

The College Board and high school teachers met at Howard University to develop the new course, NBC News reported.

Well-known professor Henry Louis Gates, the director of Harvard University’s Hutchins Center for African & African American Research, issued a statement differentiating the AP course from critical race theory, also known as CRT.

“Nothing is more dramatic than having the College Board launch an AP course in a field – that signifies ultimate acceptance and ultimate academic legitimacy,” his statement read, according to USA Today. “AP African American Studies is not CRT. It’s not the 1619 Project. It is a mainstream, rigorously vetted, academic approach to a vibrant field of study.”

CRT “is a way of thinking about America’s history through the lens of racism,” The Associated Press previously reported. The framework, developed in the 1970s and ‘80s, has drawn widespread criticism from conservatives, with several Republican-led states acting to ban its teaching in K-12 public schools, according to the news agency. CRT supporters, however, have argued that the theory isn’t even taught at that level, and efforts to oppose it could lead to a whitewashing of history.

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