More Stuff You Won’t Learn In AP – Friday Shares (2-10-23)

My daughter is reading Orwell’s 1984 in her AP English class at her school and with all of the fighting in some states to white-wash the history that is being taught I can’t help reflecting a bit on the following quote from 1984:

“Who controls the past controls the future: who controls the present controls the past.”

Ultimately, a philosophical question we need to answer is – what is the purpose of education? Are we hoping that students will have their heads filled with “facts” and information or do we hope they will be presented with different points of view and discuss these points of view and ask questions to better understand people, places, and experiences that in which they are unfamiliar?

Another person who had their work cut from the AP curriculum was best-selling author and award-winning journalist Ta-Nehesi Coates. In the interview with Chris Hayes (available below) from this past week, he gave his opinion on what the goal of education should be: “The goal of education is enlightenment, some deeper understanding of humanity.”

In reference to the backlash against his work and others Coates added, “Backlash happens when those that most want to maintain the status quo are afraid.

Another great interview worth watching from this past week was one that Ari Velshi did with Howard University Professor Nikole Hannah-Jones regarding her thoughts on the continued backlash against her Pulitzer Prize-winning 1619 Project. Like Coates, she stressed the importance of students gaining a deeper understanding of our history. “I want my child to learn complicated and nuanced things,” she noted. Jones also noted the importance of discussing interpretations of our history. “To say I disagree or wouldn’t say that is different than saying kids shouldn’t be exposed to this.”

The Truth Behind the College Board’s Decision…

As the College Board continues to try to explain the how and why of its decision to cut out major topics from its AP African American studies curriculum, the information coming out seems pretty clear as to the intentions. The College Board is a money-making organization that want to continue to have the same impact it has had historically in all 50 states. When a number of these states are now passing legislation that makes it illegal to have topics that might be considered “divisive concepts,” the College Board does not want to see a big reduction in access to its materials. Instead of taking a stand, they decided to provide a comfortable curricular pathway for states and districts where there is no appetite for teaching an accurate account of the history of our country. The organization had a chance to show its values and it did…making money is the College Board’s number-one priority.

A post earlier this week by Phil Lewis outlines a clear contradiction to the statements the College Board made about the revisions in the AP African American studies curriculum not being influenced by Florida’s pushback against certain topics. Lewis notes: “If you’ll remember, the College Board said in a statement that the major revisions were “substantially complete” by December 22, 2022, several weeks before “Florida’s objections were shared.” But this letter claims that the nonprofit has been working with Florida since January 2022 — an entire year prior.”

Why A White-Washed History is so Harmful

As noted by UCLA History Professor Robin D. G. Kelley, another scholar who had his work “revised” out of the aforementioned AP course, in an interview with Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor in the New Yorker, “Racism actually damages all of our prospects and futures.…what Black studies is about, is trying to understand how the system works and recognizing that the way the system works now benefits a few at the expense of the many…And I think people could agree with me that that’s why we do this scholarship: because we’re trying to figure out a way to make a better future. You know, that’s the whole point. And if that’s subversive, then say it, but it’s definitely not indoctrination, because indoctrination is a state that bans books.”

Recommended Read

Street Data – by Shane Safir and Jamila Dugan – This is the best education book I have read in quite some time! I keep wishing I had picked up this one sooner. Dr. Chris Emdin writes in the foreward, “Instead of listening to the families and young people we should be designing schools to serve, we listen to test numbers and test scores and choose to believe anything but the most valuable source of data in our buildings: human experience.” The book definitely provides the why and the how of radically changing how we do school improvement.

More Street Data resources:

Black History Uncensored by MSNBC’s Ja’han Jones on the ReidOut Blog

Jones is highlighting works by authors caught up in the conservative movement’s school bans. Here are the important people in our country’s history that have been highlighted so far:

Florida is Burning from Multicultural Classroom Blog

PEN America has created a list of the 176 books that were banned in Duval County Florida as of February 10.

Recommended Listen

Into America podcast – With 2023 being the 50th Anniversary of the birth of Hip-Hop, Trymaine Lee is diving into the history of Hip Hop this month. The first episode, Concrete Jungle, talks about how the concrete jungle of New York in the 1970s led to the birth and spread of hip-hop and features some of the pioneers of hip-hop. The second episode, Broken Glass Everywhere, discusses how Hip-Hop artists used their work to use their music to pushback against police harassment.

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