Become a Patron!

Black history Advanced Placement class rejected in Florida catches on elsewhere

An Advanced Placement course on African American studies rejected by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is being tested at 60 schools nationally. Students at Louisiana’s Baton Rouge Magnet High School say it’s a welcome shift in perspective from other courses. (Feb. 1) (AP Video: Stephen Smith)

When Gov. Phil Murphy announced last week that Advanced Placement African American Studies classes will be expanded in the state from one high school to 26, he left the actual list of schools a mystery.

Now the picture is a little clearer on where students will have the new option in North Jersey.

The Morris School District and Paterson Public Schools confirmed after inquiries from and the USA Today Network New Jersey that their high schools will be carrying the course.

In the 2023-2024 academic year, it will be taught at Morristown High School. The following school year, the class will be offered at high schools in Paterson.

Jennifer Giordano, Morristown’s director of school counseling services, said the program had attracted interest from students at the high school who wanted to see it taught in their classrooms.

“I’m just very proud of Morristown High School, because I think we are a tremendous, representative school of diversity and I think it’s a really appropriate course, something that our students will benefit from,” Giordano said. “There seems to be a swell of interest among the students, so I’m sure it will be popular.”

Eileen Shafer, Paterson’s superintendent of schools, confirmed the decision in a statement but did not specify which of the district’s eight high schools will be carrying the course.

“As the governor stated, ‘Black history is American history,’ and we want to ensure that what we are providing to our students captures the true essence of American history,” Shafer said. “The district is continually looking to provide curriculum resources that challenge and broaden our students’ perspectives.”

A spokesperson from Murphy’s office said six Newark high schools will also offer the course in the next school year. Murphy, a Democrat, made his announcement at one of those schools, Science Park High School. The governor’s office declined to name the other districts involved.

The only school in New Jersey, and one of only 60 in the country, that currently teaches AP African American Studies is Union County Vocational Technical High School in Scotch Plains.

Murphy framed the expansion in New Jersey as a response to Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ ban of an Advanced Placement African American Studies course in Florida schools, a move that prompted a backlash from those who said the Republican was diminishing Black history.

DeSantis criticized the course for including concepts of “queer theory” and “critical race theory” and said it was pushing an “agenda” instead of teaching history.

The College Board has come under fire after a revised outline of the course took out some of these concepts, prompting complaints that the company was caving to political pressure and calls for CEO David Coleman to resign.

The 60 schools in the U.S. that started teaching the class this school year are part of a two-year pilot program by the College Board, which is responsible for SAT, PSAT and AP exams in high schools.

The College Board’s timeline calls for the expansion of the classes over the next two years:

A representative at the College Board did not know all the schools in New Jersey that would add the course as part of the expansion.

Giordano said the Morris School District expressed its interest to the College Board in the fall. She said that based on information from the College Board, over 600 schools across the country will be teaching the class next year.

“We were very grateful that we are among them in the second year of the pilot,” she said.

Giordano said she estimates that at least 20 to 25 students will be taking the full-year course when it starts at the beginning of the next school year.

Morristown High School has about 1,900 students enrolled. A U.S. Department of Education breakdown of the school’s enrollment for the 2021-2022 school year (the most recent available) found that about 7% of the student population was Black, about 50% was white and 40% was Hispanic.

In Paterson, student population demographics for the 2021-2022 year shows 19% of the students were Black, 69% Hispanic, 6% Asian, and 5% Caucasian.

Will your school district be adding AP African American Studies? Let Staff writer Ricardo Kaulessar know at

Ricardo Kaulessar is a culture reporter for the USA TODAY Network’s Atlantic Region How We Live team. For unlimited access to the most important news, please subscribe or activate your digital account today.

This content was originally published here.