Arkansas Schools Submit AP African American Studies Materials Amid Controversy
Arkansas schools faced a ticking clock this week. The deadline to submit materials for the new AP African American Studies course was upon them. But this isn’t just about meeting a deadline; it’s about navigating a minefield of legal and ethical questions, according to Arkansas Online.
The Deadline and Its Implications
Education Department Secretary Jacob Oliva sent a clear message to superintendents: submit your materials or face the consequences. Schools had to provide a “statement of assurance,” essentially promising that the course aligns with Arkansas law. The timing of this deadline isn’t random; it’s a litmus test for how schools will approach Black studies in the future.
The Role of the College Board
The College Board, the organization behind AP courses, didn’t sit idly by. They submitted a comprehensive package, including a course framework, teacher guide, and source reader materials. Their stance? They’re committed to providing a balanced educational experience, one that doesn’t shy away from the resilience of Black communities.
School Districts’ Responses
Jacksonville/North Pulaski and Jonesboro Public Schools didn’t hesitate; they confirmed their submissions. Little Rock School District, however, raised questions about additional materials. Meanwhile, some districts remained mum, perhaps wary of the political implications on Black education.
State Education Department’s Position
The department is now reviewing the College Board’s materials, according to an official release. They’re not ruling out the need for additional information, keeping the door open for future scrutiny.
Here’s where the rubber meets the road. The course has elements that could potentially violate Arkansas law and agency rules. Topics like “intersections of identity” and “resistance and resilience” have raised eyebrows. These themes echo the ongoing debate about Black politics and state vs. nation-centered power.
The Bigger Picture
This isn’t just an Arkansas issue; it’s a national one. The course is part of a pilot program set to end in 2024, with the potential for nationwide adoption in the 2024-2025 school year. The stakes? The future of African American history and culture in American education.
Arkansas schools are at a crossroads. As they submit their materials for the AP African American Studies course, they’re not just meeting a deadline; they’re shaping the future narrative of Black history in America.