“Arkansas education officials say AP African American Studies program won’t count toward graduation”
“Students in Arkansas public high schools enrolled in the controversial Advanced Placement African American Studies course will not be able to receive credit toward graduation, state education officials told districts last week.
The direction from the Arkansas Department of Education came as teachers and students across the state were preparing to start the school year on Monday.
Several high schools – including Central High School in Little Rock which was once the epicenter of the historic fight to desegregate schools – had plans to offer the course this school year.
But, according to the Arkansas Times, a state education official informed high school teachers by phone on Friday that the department would not recognize the course for credit.
Kimberly Mundell, a spokesperson for the Arkansas Department of Education said in a Tuesday email to CNN her office “encourages the teaching of all American history and supports rigorous courses not based on opinions or indoctrination.”
“The education department’s move comes after Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders signed an executive order in January prohibiting “indoctrination and critical race theory in schools.”
EXECUTIVE ORDER TO PROHIBIT INDOCTRINATION AND CRITICAL RACE THEORY IN SCHOOLS
WHEREAS: Schools must educate, not indoctrinate students; and their education policies must protect children and prepare them to enter the workforce;
WHEREAS: Teachers and school administrators should teach students how to think—not what to think;
WHEREAS: Critical Race Theory (CRT) is antithetical to the traditional American values of neutrality, equality, and fairness. It emphasizes skin color as a person’s primary characteristic, thereby resurrecting segregationist values, which America has fought so hard to reject;
WHEREAS: It is the policy of this administration that CRT, discrimination, and indoctrination have no place in Arkansas classrooms;
WHEREAS: Government policies must empower parents to make decisions for their children and foster curriculum transparency in classrooms across the state; and
WHEREAS: The Constitution of the State of Arkansas and the Constitution of the United States of America recognize the equal value of every individual, and provide equal protection under the law, regardless of color, creed, race, ethnicity, sex, age, marital status, familial status, disability, religion, and national origin.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, acting under the authority vested in me as the Governor of the State of Arkansas, do hereby order the following:
The Secretary of the Department of Education (the “Secretary”) shall take the following steps to ensure that the Department of Education, its employees, contractors, guest speakers, and lecturers are in compliance with Title IV and Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (P.L. 88-352, 78 Stat. 241):
Review the rules, regulations, policies, materials, and communications of the Department of Education to identify any items that may, purposely or otherwise, promote teaching that would indoctrinate students with ideologies, such as CRT, that conflict with the principle of equal protection under the law or encourage students to discriminate against someone based on the individual’s color, creed, race, ethnicity, sex, age, marital status, familial status, disability, religion, national origin, or any other characteristic protected by federal or state law.
The Secretary is further instructed that if any items are found to conflict with the principle of equal protection under the law, then the Secretary is instructed to amend, annul, or alter those rules, regulations, policies, materials, or communications to remove the prohibited indoctrination.
Prohibited Indoctrination Defined: No communication by a public-school employee, public school representative, or guest speaker shall compel a person to adopt, affirm or profess an idea in violation of Title IV and Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (P.L. 88-352, 78 Stat. 241), including that:
People of one color, creed, race, ethnicity, sex, age, marital status, familial status, disability, religion, national origin, or any other characteristic protected by federal or state law are inherently superior or inferior to people of another color, creed, race, ethnicity, sex, age, marital status, familial status, disability, religion, national origin, or any other characteristic protected by federal or state law
An individual should be discriminated against or receive adverse treatment solely or partly because of the individual’s color, creed, race, ethnicity, sex, age, marital status, familial status, disability, religion, national origin, or any other characteristic protected by federal or state law.
Nothing in this section shall be construed to prohibit the discussion of ideas and history of the concepts described in subsection (c) or shall be construed to prohibit the discussion of public policy issues of the day and related ideas that individuals may find unwelcome, disagreeable or offensive.
As it relates to employees, contractors, and guest speakers or lecturers of the Department of Education, the Secretary is directed to review and enhance the policies that prevent prohibited indoctrination, including CRT.
The Secretary shall ensure that no school employee or student shall be required to attend trainings or orientations based on prohibited indoctrination or CRT.
This Executive Order shall become effective upon its signing and shall remain in full force and effect until amended or rescinded by further executive orders.
IN TESTIMONY WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand and cause the Great Seal of the State of Arkansas to be affixed this 10th day of January, in the year of our Lord 2023.
Sarah Huckabee Sanders’ admin is waging war on Black history
“With this move, Arkansas conservatives are showing that there are ways other than outright bans to hide history.”
The New York Times: Little Rock Will Offer A.P. African American Studies Despite State Objections
NEW YORK TIMES
Ivory Toldson, Education Director of the NAACP, said he participated in a conference call with five members of the Little Rock Nine, who expressed dismay with the state’s opposition to A.P. African American studies and were planning a joint response. “They are living history and have experienced the things that people are trying to whitewash out of the curriculum,” said Dr. Toldson, who is also a professor at Howard University.
What Led to the Resistance
The decision by the district illustrates some of the widespread discomfort that frontline educators have with a new crop of curriculum laws that seek to tamp down on discussions about racism, gender nonconformity and sexuality.
In Arkansas, a new law aims to ban “teaching that would indoctrinate students with ideologies” such as critical race theory. The same legislation weakened teachers’ tenure protections, which has raised the stakes in the confrontation with the state over African American studies.
The Arkansas education department said the A.P. class might not carry state credit toward high school graduation and that students would not receive state assistance with test fees.
But the Little Rock School District said in a statement that it would ensure that students would not be burdened by those fees, which are generally $98 per A.P. exam.
Colleges typically require a score of at least 3 out of 5 on those exams to grant credit. Little Rock Central High School, which is offering the class, serves about 2,500 students, half of whom are Black.
“A.P. African American Studies will allow students to explore the complexities, contributions and narratives that have shaped the African American experience throughout history, including Central High School’s integral connection,” the district said.
Educators offering the class “are very scared, ” said April Reisma, president of the Arkansas Education Association, the teachers’ union. “They can be let go at any moment for any reason.”
She lauded what she called the “bold” choice to move forward with the course and said her union would continue to argue to the state that A.P. African American studies is a rigorous, fact-based class protected under the law, and not an example of ideology or opinion.
The State Department of Education said it would take no further action to prevent schools from offering the course “until it’s determined whether it violates state law and teaches or trains teachers in CRT and indoctrination.”
A School District With History
In 1957, a group of nine Black teenagers, escorted by the U.S. National Guard, integrated Little Rock Central High School as white protesters spit and jeered. Governor Huckabee Sanders is a graduate of the school, and has spoken proudly of its legacy.
Ivory Toldson, education director of the NAACP, said he participated in a conference call Wednesday with five members of the Little Rock Nine, who expressed dismay with the state’s opposition to A.P. African American studies and were planning a joint response.
“They are living history and have experienced the things that people are trying to whitewash out of the curriculum,” said Dr. Toldson, who is also a professor at Howard University.
The A.P. African American studies curriculum has not been finalized, and it’s unclear whether the course will be offered broadly in the many conservative states that have passed laws restricting how race is taught.
The class has drawn debate since it officially rolled out in February. It emerged then that the College Board, the nonprofit that runs the A.P. program, had revised the course in response to objections from the administration of Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida, the Republican presidential candidate who has helped lead the charge to restrict teaching on race, gender and sexuality.
After an outcry from scholars of Black studies who saw the changes as censoring their discipline, the College Board said the course would undergo another round of revisions before a final version would be released publicly later this year.
According to the College Board, 700 schools will pilot the class this academic year, and 200 colleges have agreed to accept credit for the course.
Dana Goldstein is a national correspondent for The Times, writing about family policy and demographics. She is the author of the bestselling “The Teacher Wars: A History of America’s Most Embattled Profession.” More about Dana Goldstein
A version of this article appears in print on Aug. 18, 2023, Section A, Page 17 of the New York edition with the headline: Little Rock to Buck Arkansas And Offer A.P. Black Studies.