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Some Virginia parents angered by Youngkin’s review of AP African American Studies

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Posted at 10:34 AM, Mar 05, 2023

NORFOLK, Va. – Maury High School junior Kaiden London believes an entire course on the contributions and culture of Black people would be beneficial for everyone.

“I think it’s important to know,” London said. “It’s also part of my background.”

An elective course in the works for high school students on African American Studies, however, is under scrutiny by Virginia. Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R) after he asked state education leaders to review the AP course after concerns about the curriculum.

“Calling a review on it is just nonsense because to me, it just feels like he’s trying to erase our history,” said Norfolk City Public Schools parent Ashley Harris.

Youngkin’s office said his administration wants to make sure the curriculum falls in line with his state policy dealing with race.

In a statement, Youngkin’s spokeswoman, Macaulay Porter said, "After numerous reports about draft course content, the governor asked the Education Secretariat to review the College Board’s proposed AP African American Studies course as it pertains to Executive Order 1."

That order bans “inherently divisive concepts” including critical race theory (CRT) in all schools.

Virginia Legislature
Virginia Gov Youngkin delivers his State of the Commonwealth address to a joint session of the Virginia legislature in the House chamber in Richmond, Va., Wednesday Jan. 11, 2023. (AP Photo/John C. Clark)

The Virginia NAACP education chair and others in the civil rights group are angered by the move.

“We see the erasure of Black history in any school – public or private but especially public schools – as an affront,” said Virginia NAACP Education Chair Dr. Amy Tillerson-Brown.

The Virginia NAACP said the governor’s call to review the AP course is an attempt to erase certain parts of history and Democracy, adding doing that can be dangerous.

“We see it as anti-Democratic,” Tillerson-Brown said. “When you only give one point of view, then you don’t allow people to choose and to think critically about the history that is our American history.”

Ashley Harris, whose daughter is a junior at Maury High School believes the AP African American Studies course should include all aspects of history even the painful parts.

“It’s still part of our history in this country so trying to take that away from the knowledge of the children is not a good thing because it’s almost like it’s one sided,” Harris said.

Black history class photos
Emmitt Glynn teaches AP African American studies to a group of Baton Rouge Magnet High School students on Monday, Jan. 30, 2023 in Baton Rouge, La. Baton Rouge Magnet High School in Louisiana is one of 60 schools around the country testing the new course, which has gained national attention since it was banned in Florida. (AP Photo/Stephen Smith)

The state review comes after Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis questioned the course’s curriculum.

Last month, the College Board, which drafted the curriculum, said it was accused of “downgrading” some historical topics, including the Black Lives Matter movement.

Youngkin does not have the authority to ban the AP course. The governor’s office said it’s the local school districts not the Department of Education that decides what AP courses they want to teach.

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