Arkansas: AP African American Studies won't count for HS graduation credit amid legal concerns

Sources for the course include works by founding CRT scholar Kimberlé Crenshaw, Ta-Nehisi Coates, and Ibram H. Rogers, a.k.a. Ibram X. Kendi.

Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders' executive order requires changes to materials promoting Critical Race Theory or ideas that conflict with equal protection under the law.

The Arkansas Department of Education has determined that Advanced Placement (AP) African American Studies will not count as a credit toward high school graduation.

Kimberly Mundell, a spokeswoman for the Arkansas Department of Education, told ABC News that “[t]he department encourages the teaching of all American history and supports rigorous courses not based on opinions or indoctrination.”

The College Board released the framework for AP African American Studies in 2022. It is currently in its initial stages, being piloted in 60 schools and anticipated to be piloted in hundreds more this fall.

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Mundell said that as the program is currently in its pilot phase, it “may unintentionally put a teacher at risk of violating Arkansas law.”

Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders signed an executive order on January 10, 2023, stating that employees of the Arkansas Department of Education must amend any materials promoting Critical Race Theory or ideas that are “found to conflict with the principle of equal protection under the law.”

The course involves several “sources for consideration,” which “represent a strong consensus across the college syllabi analyzed for the AP course design and will likely be examined during the course.”

One of these sources is Mapping the Margins: Intersectionality, Identity Politics, and Violence against Women of Color by Kimberlé Crenshaw. In the essay, Crenshaw asserts that rape and abuse against black women are “qualitatively different than that of white women.”

Crenshaw is known for coining the term “intersectionality” to describe how areas of marginalization intersect to form unique forms of oppression. In addition, she co-edited Critical Race Theory: Key Documents That Shaped the Movement and was one of the founding coordinators of the Critical Race Theory workshop.

Other sources in the framework include The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander, The Case for Reparations by Ta-Nehisi Coates, and The Black Campus Movement and the Institutionalization of Black Studies, 1965–1970 by Ibram H. Rogers, now known as Ibram X. Kendi.

The department informed school districts that the course was not state-approved and had been coded in error, ABC News reported.

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The AP course may still count toward students’ grade-point averages. However, as the program is still in its pilot phase, the course will not be an official state AP course, meaning that the cost of AP exams will not be covered by the state. Arkansas does have an African American history course in its curriculum, and is working with districts to produce an honors-level course.

One of the course’s learning outcomes is to “[identify] the intersections of race, gender, and class, as well as connections between Black communities, in the United States and the broader African diaspora in the past and present,” according to its syllabus.

Campus Reform has reached out to the College Board, Mundell, and Crenshaw for comment and will update accordingly.