Arkansas School Year Begins with Debate on AP African American Studies

( – On Aug. 11, controversy began after former state senator Joyce Elliott tweeted a photo that appeared to show that the Arkansas Department of Education advanced placement course lists did not include AP African American Studies. School began in Arkansas on Aug. 14.

According to Arkansas state officials, the class still exists however, there is confusion about what kind of class it is. In a tweet, Arkansas Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders spokesperson stated that the course is undergoing changes as is considered a pilot course by definition in the Advanced Placement Program.

The 2022-2023 school year was the first time the pilot course was taught in 60 schools. For the 2023-2024 school year, the pilot course had been expanded to hundreds of schools. The course was scheduled to begin in all schools during the 2024-2025 school year.

The coursework was built by over 300 professors of African American Studies from at least 200 colleges across the country according to the College Board.

Students can receive high school credit for the current class in African American History that students are encouraged to take. Arkansas Department of Education Spokesperson Kimberly Mundell noted that for the 2023-2024 school year, the current class is listed in the Arkansas Department of Education’s course code management system.

Those who complete the course get high school credit however, it is not an AP course. Mundell stated the state is working on an honors version of this course with school districts.

Mundell sent a statement that the Arkansas Department of Education encourages all American history to be taught in courses that are “not based on opinions or indoctrination.”

In January, an executive order was signed by Gov. Huckabee Sanders prohibiting certain lessons on race, and specifically Critical Race Theory.

It remains unclear if students who took the course last year would receive college credit as an exam was not offered to students as the new state policies restricting certain lessons about race could infringe on what a teacher is able to teach as part of the course.

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