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School board members call for end to review of AP African American studies course

"Black History must merit more than an honorable mention every February," the letter to Gov. Youngkin reads.

FAIRFAX COUNTY, Va. — A Fairfax County School Board member is urging Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin to stop his administration's decision to "single out" the AP African-American Studies course.

Sully District Representative Stella Pekarsky, Rachna Sizemore Heizer, Laura Jane Cohen and Karl Frisch penned a letter to Youngkin and Virginia Secretary of Education Aimee Rogstad Guider Wednesday. 

The AP African American Studies Course Framework was embroiled in drama after Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-Florida) said the College Board's earlier draft violated state laws and lacks educational value. Following his comments, the Youngkin administration joined other states in having a critical eye on the revised curriculum.

In the letter, also posted to Twitter by Pekarsky, the board members say the review is part of an "alarming pattern" after last year's Black History Month Historical Markers contest for students was also canceled.

"Black History must merit more than an honorable mention every February," the letter reads. "As elected School Board members who believe diversity is one of Virginia's greatest strengths, we urge you not to impede the teaching of AP African-American Studies."

The board members go on to explain that the AP African-American Studies course had input from more than 300 educators when it was developed. They believe those educators, who are professionals in curriculum development and history, bring unparalleled expertise to the table. 

"We have a moral obligation to teach our students about both the darkest times from our past and the inspiring progress we have made as a country," the letter reads. "The AP African-American Studies course offers this important objective in a way that also provides our students with valuable college credit. We should applaud and support our students' desires to pursue rigorous curriculum offerings, not deny them opportunities."

Right now the course is only part of a pilot program in about 60 schools. Once it is widely available, AP course involvement varies state by state.

In Virginia, the local school districts get to decide.

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