Posted on August 18, 2023

Arkansas Schools Will Teach AP African American Studies Despite State’s Objections

Nirvi Shah, USA Today, August 18, 2023

AP African American Studies will be taught after all at the six schools in Arkansas that planned to offer it until state officials said last week students taking the course wouldn’t earn high school credit for it and raised concerns about whether it’s a form of “indoctrination.”

The schools were set to teach the course, banned in Florida earlier this year, as part of the second year of College Board’s pilot testing of AP African American Studies, a college-level class that covers themes ranging from early African empires and the transatlantic slave trade to reconstruction and Black power and pride. But the state’s decision threw the College Board’s plans into question, coming just as schools were starting the new year.

“District leaders believe that the AP African American Studies course will be a valuable addition to the district’s curriculum and will help our young people understand and appreciate the rich diversity of our society,” said Jeremy Owoh, the superintendent of the Jacksonville North Pulaski School District. The district’s only high school, Jacksonville High, will offer the class as an elective, he said.

Owoh also said students enrolled in the class will earn an elective credit and will be able to take the AP exam at the end of the year. Students can earn college credit based on their scores, and about 200 colleges already have said they will offer credit for AP African American History, according to the College Board. Arkansas has typically picked up the tab for AP exams, which cost about $100 per student, but the state has said it will not pay for students to take the AP African American Studies test.


Central High School in the Little Rock School District also will offer the course as planned, the district said. The school was among the first in the nation to integrate in 1957.


In the North Little Rock School District, the course also will be offered as an elective at two high schools, North Little Rock High School and the North Little Rock Center of Excellence, said Dustin Barnes, the district’s communications coordinator. The district is still weighing how to pay for students to take the AP test associated with the class.

AP African American Studies will also be available at three other schools planning to take the course, local media have reported.