RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R) has asked for a review of a proposed Advanced Placement African American studies course rejected by Florida — to find whether it complies with his first executive order banning the teaching of “inherently divisive concepts.”
The move underscores the effort from Gov. Youngkin and Republicans in other states to focus on classroom lessons about race, history and gender, and to ban critical race theory — an academic framework based on the idea that racism is systemic and is perpetuated in society –from their education systems.
A dispute over the College Board’s proposed AP course — being piloted at 60 high schools across the country — ensued after the curriculum received heavy criticism from Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R), who blocked it from being taught in the state.
Gov. DeSantis’ administration claimed the curriculum first proposed by the College Board was “inexplicably contrary” to state law and lacked “educational value.” DeSantis, seen as one of the top potential 2024 GOP presidential contenders, faced backlash from advocates and lawmakers who said the decision kept students from knowing “the whole story” of the nation’s history.
Gov. Youngkin, another potential 2024 presidential hopeful, asked Virginia’s Secretary of Education Aimee Guidera to examine whether the course clashes with his executive order “after numerous reports about draft course content,” according to his spokeswoman Macaulay Porter.
Youngkin’s first executive order, which he signed not long after taking office, called for the end of “the use of divisive concepts, including Critical Race Theory, and to raise academic standards” in public education.
Despite Youngkin’s focus on critical race theory during his campaign, the Virginia Department of Education said multiple times it was not part of the commonwealth’s K-12 curriculum.
Following DeSantis’ criticism, the College Board made changes to the course framework that drew objections, including the removal of teaching about Black scholars associated with critical race theory, Black queer studies, the reparations movement and intersectionality and activism. The board said the changes were not prompted by Florida’s objections.
In Virginia, local school districts determine which Advanced Placement courses are offered, not the state Board of Education. AP courses are elective, advanced-level classes that allow high schoolers to earn college credit.
Virginia’s review of the course, first reported by The Washington Post, comes as three other states examine the curriculum for potential conflicts with adopted education policies and laws.