In his seemingly never-ending quest to remove “divisive concepts” from Virginia’s schools, Gov. Glenn Youngkin has taken a page right out of Ron DeSantis’ playbook and called for a review of Virginia’s AP African American studies programs. According to a report this weekend from the Washington Post, Youngkin, a Republican, asked state officials to review the curriculum to ensure that it didn’t conflict with his inaugural executive order, which barred teachers from teaching “inherently divisive concepts.”
Gov. Youngkin is correct in calling for a review of the AP's "African American Studies" curriculum.
Black history and culture is a vital part of our national story, and we cannot let left-wing activists twist and distort it to advance their radical political agenda.
— Virginia GOP (@VA_GOP) February 20, 2023
Youngkin is making this move about a month after DeSantis, Florida’s GOP governor, pulled a similar stunt. At the beginning of this year, DeSantis blocked a new AP African American studies course in Florida high school classrooms.
The new AP course, which has been released across 60 high schools nationwide, received a makeover earlier this month. On February 1, the College Board—the nonprofit that administers the AP program—released a severely stripped down version of the course following DeSantis’ criticism. While the board denied caving to any political pressure, the new curriculum removed mention of many modern social movements, like Black Lives Matter, that DeSantis specifically objected to. As my colleague, Pema Levy, noted:
The demoted topics have been relegated to optional independent research topics, but that list “can be refined by states and districts,” the College Board noted. The list of now optional topics serves as a handy guide to what the curriculum lacks:
- Affirmative Action: approaches and controversies
- Black Lives Matter: Origins, impacts, critics
- Reparations debates in the U.S. / the Americas
- The legacy of redlining
- Crime, criminal justice, and incarceration
- African American health and healthcare outcomes in the United States
- Black conservatism: development and ideology
- Movements led by Black women: Combahee River Collective and beyond
- Black politics: African Americans and the political spectrum
Virginia isn’t the only state following Florida’s lead. Arkansas, North Dakota, and Mississippi have also requested reviews of their African American studies courses. On February 12, the College Board criticized DeSantis in a letter, stating: “There is always debate about the content of a new AP course. That is good and healthy; these courses matter. But the dialogue surrounding AP African American Studies has moved from healthy debate to misinformation.”