Education

Florida church offers up space to teach AP African American Studies

Earlier this month, Florida's education department rejected AP African-American Studies in a letter to the College Board, which oversees AP classes.

Florida church offers up space to teach AP African American Studies
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You can count on churches to teach religion, but inside Allendale United Methodist in St. Pete, Florida, there's room for a different lesson.

"I believe we have to know our history so that we can do better as a community," said Pastor Andy Oliver.

Pastor Oliver is opening the church's doors to AP African-American Studies following the state's push to ban the course.

"When a governor makes the claim that Black Studies lacks educational value, we need everyone to step up and say that's not okay. I know that there is one way to make kids and even adults want to take a class. It's by banning it," he added.

An African American study course is now banned from Florida schools

An African American study course is now banned from Florida schools

Florida's Department of Education has decided to block the state's schools from participating in the AP's African American Studies pilot program.

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Earlier this month, the state education department rejected the program in a letter to the College Board, which oversees AP classes.

Education Commissioner Manny Diaz tweeted this list, detailing the findings they felt went against state law.

The state does require African American History. The Florida Statute lays out what that class is required to teach.

Governor DeSantis spoke Monday about why he made the decision to ban the class from Florida schools.

"The issue is we have guidelines and standards in Florida. We want education, not indoctrination," he said.

AP African American Studies... by ABC Action News

The course is currently in its pilot phase. On Monday, College Board released a statement saying the framework under a microscope right now isn't a finalized product.

    On Wednesday, February 1, the first day of Black History Month, the Advanced Placement Program will release the official framework for the AP African American Studies course. This framework, under development since March 2022, replaces the preliminary pilot course framework under discussion to date.

    Before a new AP course is made broadly available, it is piloted in a small number of high schools to gather feedback from high schools and colleges. The official course framework incorporates this feedback and defines what students will encounter on the AP Exam for college credit and placement.

    We are grateful for the contributions of experts, teachers, and students and look forward to sharing the framework broadly.  

The Department of Education responded, stating:

    We are glad the College Board has recognized that the originally submitted course curriculum is problematic, and we are encouraged to see the College Board express a willingness to amend. AP courses are standardized nationwide, and as a result of Florida's strong stance against identity politics and indoctrination, students across the country will consequentially have access to an historically accurate, unbiased course.

    As Governor DeSantis said, African American History is American History, and we will not allow any organization to use an academic course as a gateway for indoctrination and a political agenda.

    We look forward to reviewing the College Board's changes and expect the removal of content on Critical Race Theory, Black Queer Studies, Intersectionality, and other topics that violate our laws.

While Allendale UMC isn't able to give AP credits for the course, Pastor Oliver said he believes this is more important than grades.

"When our community is under attack, like it is now. When one part of our community suffers, whether that's black or brown children or LGBTQ children, all parts are attacked. And so we are part of this inescapable network of mutuality, that we have to stand in solidarity together."

On Wednesday, black leaders such as Ben Crump and State Representative Michelle Raynor plan to rally at the capitol in support of the class.

This story was originally published by Jada Williams on abcactionnews.com.