(NEW YORK) – PEN America today reacted with grave disappointment to the College Board’s release of a new framework for an Advanced Placement African American Studies—eliminating readings about Black feminism, critical race theory and the Black Lives Matter movement— after significant criticism of the original course from Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and rejection of the course by the Florida Department of Education. The College Board has claimed that the changes are rooted in pedagogical concerns rather than political ones; however, many appear to have come in response to public critiques from conservative officials.

In response, Jeremy C. Young, senior manager of free expression and education at PEN America, released the following statement:

“Coming in the current political climate, the proposed changes appear to be an effort to dilute the curriculum, a capitulation to education censors for political expediency. It is particularly concerning that the cuts to the required curriculum target viewpoints from Black women and LGBTQ+ scholars, an extension of efforts to restrict the teaching of race, gender, and sexuality that have swept across the country in the past two years. This decision risks empowering such  attempts to exert ideological control over the freedom to learn, running counter to the ideals of viewpoint diversity that are necessary to preserve a culture of free expression and open inquiry in our schools.”

“The College Board has claimed that these changes are pedagogical, not political,” Young continued. “Maybe so. But the College Board must be aware that in the context of Florida leaders’ comments, the changes risk sending the message that political threats against the teaching of particular types of content can succeed in silencing that content. The course was developed in order to increase students’ awareness of African American history, culture, and thought, providing an opportunity to engage with curricular subjects long found only at the margins of American public education. It is gravely disappointing to see pedagogical decisions limited by political imperatives.”

About PEN America

PEN America stands at the intersection of literature and human rights to protect open expression in the United States and worldwide. We champion the freedom to write, recognizing the power of the word to transform the world. Our mission is to unite writers and their allies to celebrate creative expression and defend the liberties that make it possible. Learn more at pen.org.

Contact: Suzanne Trimel, [email protected], 201-247-5057