The Student News Site of Shorecrest Preparatory School

The Chronicle

The Student News Site of Shorecrest Preparatory School

The Chronicle

The Student News Site of Shorecrest Preparatory School

The Chronicle

Insight into the Newest AP Class: AP African American Studies

US Social Studies Department Chair Kayla Brazee and sophomore Sinai Dunbar pose together. Brazee was supposed to teach AP African American Studies during the 2023-2024 school year, but is now going to teach an honors elective course of the same subject. Photo by Ava Stanton.

     Sophomore Sinai Dunbar came from a predominantly African-American school and, upon moving to Shorecrest, had to search for someone who looked like her. She took the initiative to create the Black Student Union to share her experiences. Dunbar said, “[It’s] our own space for us just to be who we wanna be…I get to teach them stuff that’s not always taught in our classrooms.”

     For decades, the American education system and College Board have been criticized for their Eurocentric courses. In 2022, College Board prepared to run a pilot stage of its newest course: African-American Studies. The course was immediately criticized by politicians on the right as being part of so-called “woke culture” and a product of the advocacy group Black Lives Matters. Florida’s governor, Ron DeSantis, threatened to ban it from the state’s curriculum.  

     Director of Diversity and Inclusion Roderick Fludd said, “The way that the College Board created all the other classes was not in reaction to a movement. So creating a course based around the movement, I think, was where the presentation went awry, because the course is not based around the movement, it’s based around the studies of African-Americans and their contributions to America. So there’s a totally different reason behind it, but it was presented one way,  and it actually was done a totally different way.”

     Creation of the curriculum, however, began over a decade ago, before movements, such as Black Lives Matter, gained the traction they have now.     

     Visual Arts Department Chair Charla Ghaglio said, “The thing that’s interesting to me is that no one bats an eye about there being AP European History. But this [AP African American Studies]…seems to concern people.” Classes like European and United States History have been taught for years with little critique, so why is this class causing such political discourse? Gaglio said, “Everybody is very polarized and everybody has an opinion and unfortunately education is one of the battlegrounds that those differences are fought on.” 

          Since AP African American Studies is a pilot program, there are nuances. Many opponents of the College Board have criticized its decision to edit the curriculum in reaction to Florida’s decision not to teach the class unless changes were made. College Board has denied these claims.  However, it will continue to edit the course content after the upcoming trial run during the 2023-2024 school year. Fludd said, “Unfortunately this is a victim of political grandstanding.”

     Despite criticism, some are excited for College Board to create more classes about minorities. US Social Studies Department Chair Kayla Brazee, who proposed teaching an elective on African-American Studies this upcoming school year, said, “My hope is that AP African American Studies will compel College Board to consider future courses like AP Asian Studies, Latin American Studies, Native American Studies, etc.” 

     Teachers are not the only ones who are excited for and appreciative of the AP class. “I know students who take my class [Equity and Justice] who are like, oh my God, I’m so excited that this class is being offered,” Fludd said. “For years there hasn’t been a class in African American studies that’s been offered. So it’s kind of the appreciation of your culture and your ethnicity being acknowledged on a grander scale.” 

     Dunbar said, “This is our history, this is what we did…this is how we progressed together as a society. And we can live together with people who don’t necessarily look like us, but at the end of the day, we all bleed the same blood.” 

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