Little Rock Will Offer A.P. African American Studies Despite State Objections


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Dana Goldstein, The New York Times

Little Rock Central High School (Al Drago/The New York Times)

The Little Rock School District in Arkansas said on Wednesday that it would continue to offer Advanced Placement African American studies, over the objections of the administration of Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders, a Republican who has limited instruction on race.

The decision comes after the State Department of Education announced on Monday that the course’s content might violate a new law banning “indoctrination” in schools.

The decision by the district illustrates some of the widespread discomfort that frontline educators have with a new crop of curriculum laws that seek to tamp down on discussions about racism, gender nonconformity and sexuality.

In Arkansas, a new law aims to ban “teaching that would indoctrinate students with ideologies” such as critical race theory. The same legislation weakened teachers’ tenure protections, which has raised the stakes in the confrontation with the state over African American studies.

The Arkansas education department said the A.P. class might not carry state credit toward high school graduation and that students would not receive state assistance with test fees.

But the Little Rock School District said in a statement that it would ensure that students would not be burdened by those fees, which are generally $98 per A.P. exam.

[…] Little Rock Central High School, which is offering the class, serves about 2,500 students, half of whom are Black.

“A.P. African American Studies will allow students to explore the complexities, contributions and narratives that have shaped the African American experience throughout history, including Central High School’s integral connection,” the district said.

Read more about the controversial decision in the original article.

Dive deeper into Black history: Learn about the education of Black children in the Jim Crow south in this virtual exhibit.

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