Wednesday, February 15, 2023

Bizarre: College Board accuses DeSantis administration of slander


(AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)

The College Board–the organization that runs the Advanced Placement exams and other standardized tests such as the SAT–has done a serious about-face in its response to Governor DeSantis’ criticisms of its AP African American Studies course.

As you all know, Governor DeSantis and the Florida Department of Education have dealt a serious blow to the College Board. They rejected the AP African American Studies course for Florida students, prompting the College Board to hastily rework the curriculum and roll out a new version. It was a big black eye for the organization and prompted many liberals to accuse it of kowtowing to racist conservatives.

The College Board has yet to regain its footing. In the past few days it has released two different statements about the controversy, including a rather bizarre release of an unsigned and inflammatory statement Saturday night.

Needless to say, a Saturday night press release about an ongoing controversy is…unusual. Normally weekend press releases would be exclusively for breaking news and crisis communications.

Clearly, there is a crisis within the ranks of the College Board–a lot of their constituents are unhappy, pushing the Board to fight back. And that they have.

Our commitment to AP African American Studies is unwavering. This will be the most rigorous, cohesive immersion that high school students have ever had in this discipline. Many more students than ever before will go on to deepen their knowledge in African American Studies programs in college.

Teachers and students piloting this course are everywhere voicing their enthusiasm for the discoveries they are making. They are thriving in the openness and respect of the classroom environments they have built.

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.

We are proud of this course. But we have made mistakes in the rollout that are being exploited.

We need to clear the air and set the record straight.

 Mistakes? Yeah, they put out a crap product, couldn’t defend it, and changed it in response to criticism. They went all 1619/Robin DiAngelo/Ibram X. Kendi on us. What on earth did they expect? And why on Earth do they have to “set the record straight” on a Saturday night, just days after an earlier press release on the same subject?

Obviously, their Left-wing supporters went crazy about the Board caving to DeSantis, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they also got some pressure from Washington to strike out at DeSantis. After all, it is not at all expected for a service provider to strike out–“denounce”–the concerns of a customer of theirs.

Something rather dramatic must have caused this:

We deeply regret not immediately denouncing the Florida Department of Education’s slander, magnified by the DeSantis administration’s subsequent comments, that African American Studies “lacks educational value.” Our failure to raise our voice betrayed Black scholars everywhere and those who have long toiled to build this remarkable field.

Since when has the College Board been in the business of accusing governors of “slander?” That is bizarre and highly political. And they do it by implying that the motivation was racism.

What is striking is that their loyalty is now to “black scholars,” which is hardly the same as students or education as a whole.

The field of African American studies is highly politicized, and in and of itself that is not illegitimate. Their politics are not my cup of tea, obviously, but I am all about free speech and academic freedom. As long as there are competing voices and vigorous debate–hardly evident in academia today, but that is not the issue here–I support even the most ridiculous arguments being aired in colleges and universities.

I, myself, was a teaching assistant at Duke University for a required course for political science students that had them reading Hitler, Mussolini, Marx, Locke, George Gilder, and others from across the political spectrum. I had no objections because it exposed students to a variety of points of view.

But high-school students shouldn’t be taught a one-sided, ideologically charged, and questionable view of history. It is inappropriate and simply propaganda. That was the issue. Betraying Black scholars? It is not the College Board’s job to defend Black scholars. It is to provide guidance for a class appropriate for high-school students. Are “Black scholars” suddenly shrinking violets incapable of defending themselves intellectually?

If so, they aren’t very good scholars.

You can read the whole press release here. It is BS, ideological, and filled with “affirming” language for teachers, Black scholars, and all that. None of which is the most important thing: was the course appropriate for HS students as furthering their educational understanding of history?

The whole saga has been ridiculous. The College Board admits that the original content of the course was inappropriate. Now they are turning their guns on Florida for transparently political reasons: the Left is unhappy.

So the College Board is compounding their educational errors with the mistake of engaging in what amounts to electoral politics. If I were DeSantis I would ask the College Board for any emails they have gotten from the Biden Administration in Washington.