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Gov. Glenn Youngkin wants AP African American studies reviewed

The Youngkin administration instructed state education officials to review the latest AP African American Studies Course Framework.

RICHMOND, Va. — There is a new conversation on how race and history should be taught in classrooms after Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R) is facing pushback for wanting state education officials to review the new Advanced Placement African American studies course.

Among the critics is the Arlington Democrats, which tweeted how his decision is "All in a pathetic attempt to keep up with Ron DeSantis."

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. 

"After numerous reports about draft course content, the governor asked the Education Secretariat to review the College Board’s proposed AP African American Studies course as it pertains to Executive Order 1," Youngkin's spokesperson Macaulay Porter said. 

EO1 bans critical race theory in K-12 Virginia schools, although the topic has never been taught in classrooms before.

"I would invite the review and I would invite everyone to participate in the review," Associate Professor Greg Carr of Howard University's Afro-American Studies said. "Of course this violates Youngkin's political instincts as it does violate DeSantis' instincts."

Carr was one of many contributors to the course framework.

"We all don't agree, but this is a very inclusive course and course framework that allows the flexibility for all of us to come to the table of any racial or cultural background and discuss what it means to be a person of African descent in the world and U.S.," Carr added. "That's extremely offensive to those who want to narrow that definition."

DeSantis claimed the pilot program version of the course teaches critical race, and suggested indoctrination. 

The College Board blasted critics for spreading misinformation.

"There is always debate about the content of a new AP course," the group said. "That is good and healthy; these courses matter. But the dialogue surrounding AP African American Studies has moved from healthy debate to misinformation."

The new and revised curriculum has been under scrutiny by other professors and scholars. The College Board is accused of buckling to pressure from conservative politicians by stripping it of instructions on the Black Lives Matter movement, Black queer studies and authors associated with critical race theory. 

Carr said he stands by the framework because it is a "point of entry." Although the language may not be directly on the framework, he said students have the ability to engage through projects.

"It's not labeled in this source-driven course, however, there is the flexibility for students who might want to pursue that to perhaps take that on as a final project," he said. "That might drive people crazy."

George Mason University Associate Professor LaNitra Berger said Virginia is a prime place to teach African American history. She is concerned about the political firestorm surrounding education.

"Our job is to make sure that students have the ability to look at the world around them, to identify problems and ask critical questions," Berger said. "The exclusion of certain histories from that curriculum does a disservice to all of our students."

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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