Heads Up! A New AP Course is On The Way

The newest addition to College Board’s family of AP classes has sparked controversy in recent weeks


USA Today

Florida residents protest ban of APAAS


Early this year, College Board announced plans to pilot a new course called AP African American Studies, an exciting attempt to recognize an often overlooked portion of history. This is the latest of many additions College Board has made to its already diverse portfolio of Advanced Placement classes in the last few years. 


According to College Board, the curriculum for AP African American Studies will span over 800 years of history, beginning with the African Diaspora and ending with explorations of modern-day diversity and freedom. Topics like the Atlantic slave trade, American abolition, the Civil Rights movement, and Black cultural identity will be examined throughout the course.


Though College Board has collaborated with many scholars and organizations to create an accurate, rounded African American history curriculum, the new course has faced public backlash. In January, Florida’s government announced its intent to ban AP African American Studies, with Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis’s press secretary Bryan Griffin calling the course a “vehicle for a political agenda.” The Florida Department of Education has since also denounced the course, claiming it is “indoctrinating students” and lacks educational value.


The official curriculum for APAAS was edited and released in early February (ABC)

Florida’s opposition of the AP African American Studies course is the latest of many recent Florida political policies aimed at limiting the study of diversity in the classroom. Notably, the “Parental Rights in Education” law, dubbed the “Don’t Say Gay” bill by critics, limits the discussion of sexual and gender orientation in the classroom. The policies have begun to appear across the United States with the rise of parental rights advocates and Republican administrations.


Despite backlash, College Board has maintained support for their course, calling the Florida Department of Education’s comments “slander.” Christopher Tinson, chair of the African American Studies department at Saint Louis University, said in an NPR interview, “there’s nothing particularly ideological about the course except that we value the experiences of African people in the United States.” College Board has also claimed its February edits to the official AP African American Studies curriculum were in no way influenced by Florida’s opposition. 


College Board is currently piloting AP African American Studies through select U.S. high schools. The official course is set to go public for the 2024-2025 school year, meaning Juan Diego could one day offer the course. Teacher and chair of the JD Social Studies Department Mrs. Jacobs is excited about the potential this new course brings, stating that “this particular course starts in Africa, so it’s that particular portion of history that often gets overlooked.”


Regarding AP African American Studies at Juan Diego, Mrs. Jacobs says “AP classes take a lot of work for teachers to prepare…I don’t see it in the cards for the 2024 school year.” The politically charged debate surrounding the course’s release also invokes apprehension. “I think so many people have already made an opinion about the class. That (makes) me cautious,” Mrs. Jacobs comments.

“I think it would be great to see that level of diversity brought to Juan Diego.”

— Mrs. Jacobs


Nonetheless, many teachers and students are excited about this new curriculum. “I think it would be great to see that level of diversity brought to Juan Diego,” Mrs. Jacobs concludes. Keep an eye out for AP African American Studies in the coming years!