The College Board Disappoints Students Everywhere by Caving Into Racism


Photo Courtesy of The New York Times.


After Republican governor of Florida, Ron DeSantis, signed legislation that restricts how racism and history can be taught in schools, the new Advanced Placement course on African American Studies was also rejected by Florida’s state officials. As if this clear act of systemic racism wasn’t bad enough, the College Board responded by stripping down the curriculum to make it more appealing to conservative decision-makers. Beyond the state borders of Florida, AP students all over are feeling a growing sense of disappointment in an institution they rely on for an academic challenge and GPA boost.

Florida has long established itself as extremely conservative, with laws like the Parental Rights in Education Act, more commonly known as “Don’t Say Gay” that prohibits public school teachers from teaching sexual orientation and gender identity. To add to this history of inhumane legislation passed by Floridians, Florida’s governor Ron DeSantis passed the Stop W.O.K.E Act (Stop the Wrongs to Our Kids and Employees) in 2022. More specifically “prohibits instruction on race relations or diversity that imply a person’s status as either privileged or oppressed is necessarily determined by his or her race, color, national origin, or sex.” According to Florida’s government, this is the “strongest legislation of its kind in the nation and will take on both corporate wokeness and critical race theory.” To honor this legislative act, Florida severed ties with the College Board, refusing to offer AP African American Studies in public schools.

The problem for Floridians is critical race theory (CRT), an academic concept that is decades old. At the heart of critical race theory is the idea that racism is a social construct, not just something resulting from individuals’ biases and ideologies. Rather, critical race theory acknowledges that racism has long been embedded in legal policies and systems. According to Education Week, critical race theory has now become the basis for all “Diversity and inclusion efforts”. The controversy over the topic comes from critics—often, but not limited to, conservative Republicans— saying that CRT creates a distorted dynamic in which all white people are “forced to be seen as oppressors.” DeSantis claims CRT is racist. “In Florida we are taking a stand against the state-sanctioned racism that is critical race theory. We won’t allow Florida tax dollars to be spent teaching kids to hate our country or to hate each other.” DeSantis also claims that the course is historically inaccurate and violates a state law that regulates how race-related topics can be taught in public schools. Teacher of African American Literature at BHS, Mr. Cooper opposes this distorted view saying, “they [critics of CRT] make it sound like we [teachers] are teaching that racism is okay, but we are just reporting on what happened. To contradict that, I think it is important for us [teachers] to truthfully report on what happened, so we can understand why things are the way they are today. We can’t have a better future if we don’t really understand what happened in the past.”

Beyond just the walls of government offices, Florida parents further disappoint their kids by encouraging government intrusion in education. In an article published by the Miami Herald, reports of parent involvement in 2023 state that there are “moms storming school board meetings [and] financing the political campaign of censoring politicians.” Florida parents also have a long track record of demanding Christian-only classrooms and sheltering their children from queerness. There is no doubt that parents are passionate about what their kids learn at Florida public schools and support systemic racism by being active loyalists to this ideology.

In response to the criticism, the College Board “purged the names of many Black writers and scholars associated with critical race theory, the queer experience, and Black feminism,” describes a recent New York Times article. Beyond just stripping the curriculum of the heart of Black American history, the College Board recently made the decision to include “Black conservatism” as an idea for a research project. Black conservatives emphasize patriotism and traditionalism, and are often associated with the Republican party. However, the College Board claims they do not “look to the statements of political leaders” or the current politics of America, rather says the changes made to the curriculum of AP African American Studies were finalized months before Florida announced that it will no longer allow the course to be taught. Although the course still incorporates content involving slavery, reconstruction, and the civil rights movement – it neglects to represent more contemporary matters like Black Lives Matter, incarceration, court discrimination, police brutality, and Black queer communities. Florida, as well as the College Board, are robbing the Black community of its history and vibrant identity.

It would be wrong to say that this decision impacts just the Black community in Florida. AP students all across the country are feeling conflicted in their choice to support the College Board. Junior Sharmel Gibson reflects on recent events and says, “Given how competitive college admissions are, I think students will always be slaves to the College Board.” Students should not have to choose between supporting a racist monopoly or significantly decreasing their chances of attending university. Gibson adds, “Students want more autonomy and agency over their education and when opportunities are taken away from them it’s disappointing.”

White Republicans are denying America’s youth the right to learn about American history in its entirety since Black history is American history. Students should not have their curriculum dictated by the prevailing political whims, but rather by historians, thinkers, and educators who are actually informed about what best constitutes an “education”.