Friday Shares (2-3-23) – College Board’s Predictable Decision

While the news stories continue about the state of Florida pressuring the College Board regarding some of the content of its AP African American Studies curriculum, there are a few things worth highlighting. First, AP courses are elective courses…This means that no one is forced to take them.  Second, the College Board is probably best known for the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) which Carl Brigham, a noted eugenicist, developed. Dr. Tracey Benson, a school leader, researcher, and the co-author of Unconscious Bias in Schools highlights the problematic nature of the College Board offering an AP African American Studies course in his post on medium DeSantis v. Black Studies (2023): New Dog, Old Tricks. He notes, “Ultimately, the pretty package of developing and offering an African American studies AP course represents putting cracked eggs in a flimsy basket.”

If College Board wanted to look anything but disingenuous in this endeavor, they would have had a much more transparent process in the curricular decisions that were made around this course. They could have modeled the type of collaborative process that is necessary when fear-based tactics are used to pressure educators. As Lauren Porosof notes in her ASCD article Navigating Tough Curriculum Conversations, we need to ask ourselves reflective questions like “Is this curriculum making people unsafe or merely uncomfortable? Who, exactly, is uncomfortable? What might be the source of that discomfort.”  Porosof also notes that it is pretty common for adults to “mischaracterize experiences as unsafe when they’re merely uncomfortable.”  

The article concludes with a subheading titled “A Manifestation of Values.” Here’s the first sentence: “Creating curriculum is always a matter of deciding what’s most important for students to know and do, and what anyone considers most important reflects that person’s values.” In this case, it reflects the values of both the College Board and the Governor of Florida. In Florida’s case, there is some irony in the fact that the state is simultaneously moving towards permitless carry of weapons for residents over 21 while at the same time reminding teachers they could face felony charges for unapproved books in their classrooms

Recommended Listen/Watch

Democracy-ish Podcast – New episodes drop each Thursday. Here is the description of the podcast from the Democracy-ish website: “Democracy-ish is a podcast dedicated to fighting for democracy and preserving your sanity in a time when both are under active assault by forces committed to white supremacy and stupidity. For far too long our body politic has been viewed through an all-white prism that does not represent the multiracial nation that is the United States of America. Hosts Danielle Moodie and Wajahat Ali always keep it real, blunt and entertaining as they discuss how we can achieve a multiracial democracy and cover all the ground left behind by mainstream media and seek to make sense out of the nonsense.”

  • Last week’s, Bustin America’s Racist Myths episode featured Princeton History Professor Kevin Kruse who discussed his new book Myth America: Historians Take On the Biggest Legends and Lies About Our Past , a collection of essays by historians which addresses some of the biggest historical inaccuracies about our country. The book includes an essay on Voter Fraud by Carol Anderson, author of New York Times Best Seller White Rage: The Unspoken Truth of Our Racial Divide and Professor of African American History at Emory University, and an essay on Police Violence by Elizabeth Hinton, author of America On Fire and Associate Professor of History in the Department of History and the Department of African American Studies at Yale, with a secondary appointment as Professor of Law at the Law School.
  • This week’s episode, Banning Black History, discusses the College Board’s decision to delete som portions of its AP African American History curriculum after criticism from Florida Governor Ron DeSantis

Recommended Read

A few more articles on the situation with the College Board  

A Framework for Resisting Book Bans – by Daniel Liou and Kelly Deits Cutler in ASCD’s Educational Leadership

This a great article on Resisting Book Bans! The authors share a constructive and proactive framework that ensures diversity, equity, inclusivity, and social justice are prioritized.

4 Ways Anti-Blackness Shows Up In DEI – by Janice Gassam Asare in Forbes

Did you know research done in 2019 found that over 80 percent of Chief Diversity Officers were white? Gassam Asare notes, “Not enough conversation centers around how those of us hired to help eliminate workplace inequities are instrumental in perpetuating harm.”  The four areas she goes in-depth on in the article are: expertise, pay inequity, deprioritizing black issues, and aggregating all non-white employees.

Poll: Parents Don’t Want Schools to Focus on Culture Wars – by Eesha Pendharkar in EdWeek

New data indicates that two-thirds of voters feel culture wars distract schools from their core mission of educating students. Despite this data, the truth is that some states are continuing to pass regulations around “divisive concepts” and banning books that limit access to diverse points of view and cause fear in educators.

U.S. Public Education is Under Attack. It’s Time to Take a Stand – From Lynn Jennings at the Education Trust last February.

The article is as relevant as it was a year ago when Jennings wrote: 

“Education equity advocates and allies must stand united once again, for divided we fall. We must actively resist legislation and state policies that force educators to whitewash U.S. history and deny students the literature that will help Black students see themselves in history and for White students to develop empathy for those who don’t look like them.”

Black Visibility Matters: The Inconvenient Truths of Bias and Erasure – by Kevin Myles of Learning for Justice.

This article is from this past September and Myles’s words about inclusivity certainly resonate this week:

“We must operate in a heightened state of awareness to ensure inclusivity in all realms. Failure to operate on this high frequency means failing ourselves as human beings as we yearn to make the world a better place in which tremendous gifts and opportunities are not wasted because of bias and anti-Blackness.”

Mirrors, Windows, and Sliding Glass Doors – by Rudine Sims Bishop in 1990. 

As some may be aware, Bishop is referred to as the “mother of multicultural literature” for her groundbreaking research in children’s literature. Check out the short video here with Professor Bishop discussing the importance of Mirrors, Windows, and Sliding Glass Doors. 

Additional Resources

ADL’s online bibliography of recommended children’s and young adult books about bias, bullying, diversity and social justice.

ADL’s Monthly Featured Books From This Month back to 2011

UCLA School of Law CRT Forward Tracking Project – The CRT Forward Tracking Project (FTP) identifies, tracks, and analyzes local, state, and federal measures that attempt to restrict access to truthful information about Critical Race Theory (CRT), race, and systemic racism. To demonstrate the breadth of anti-CRT measures across the country, FTP provides a comprehensive database of anti-CRT measures across all levels of government and varying types of official action.

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