Curriculum Changes Made after DeSantis’ Comments on Banning AP African American Studies


"Classroom" by -Marlith- (CC BY 2.0)

Changes in the curriculum will affect those who have interest in AP African American Studies in some states, including Florida.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis made headlines for banning Advanced Placement African American Studies in late January, 2023, arguing they have little to no educational value.


Governor DeSantis’ Stand

According to, Governor DeSantis said, “We want education not indoctrination,” arguing that the course was “pushing an agenda on our kids.” Further elaborated by NBC News, DeSantis said the course’s focus on intersectionality, which is the study of discrimination through the overlapping topics of race, gender, class, and sexual orientation, was not education, but rather a political agenda. He said this for the topics of reparations and mass incarceration as well. To put his views into further context, Time included the event from last spring, DeSantis signed the STOP Woke Act, which aimed to regulate how schools and workplaces spoke and educated on race and gender.

Based on information reported by NBC News, Florida already requires the teaching of African American history. DeSantis explained that the required African American history teaching includes “all the important things.” In addition, students are not required to know about said topics for the AP exam that are now listed as optional avenues one may want to pursue on their own.


The Response & Alterations

Reported by Time, in response to DeSantis’ comments, The Florida Department of Education informed the College Board that it would not approve the curriculum unless certain changes were made. 

Further detailed by the New York Times, the College Board released revised curriculum for the Advanced Placement African American Studies course, ridding much of the subjects that had provoked the governor and others with similar views. The altered curriculum ranges in topics on Africa, slavery, reconstruction, and the civil rights movement. There is content on discrimination, Afrofuturism, as well as stories of individual achievement and heroism.

In addition, more modern topics, such as Black Lives Matter, incarceration, queer life and the debate over reparations have been reduced in content. The subjects are no longer part of the AP exam, but are offered on a list of options for a required research project. The College Board has also removed several names of black writers and scholars dealing with critical race theory, the queer experience and black feminism. 

However, College Board officials said they have a time-stamped document that confirms the final changes to the curriculum were made in December, before the Florida Department of Education notified the College Board that the course would not be taught if alterations were not made. “We should have made clear that contemporary events like the Black Lives Matter movement, reparations, and mass incarceration were optional topics in the pilot course. Our lack of clarity allowed the narrative to arise that political forces had “downgraded” the role of these contemporary movements and debates in the AP class. The actual pilot course materials teachers used were completed on April 29, 2022—far prior to any pushback.”

The opinions of Governor DeSantis as well as decisions and alterations made by both the Board of Education and College Board have both angered people and aligned with their views. Some believe that the purging of content is discriminatory and a way to avoid prominent social and political issues from both history and today, while others believe the removal is justified and that the content is not needed for a well-rounded education.