While controversy rages on about the College Board’s Advanced Placement African American Studies course, Black students in a new survey say they want a more inclusive curriculum.
In the survey by YouthTruth, Black students said they feel learning about Black American or African history can be a guiding factor for them to pursue higher education.
But many history classes don’t cover much about Black America – and lawmakers in multiple states aim to keep it that way, enacting laws that limit discussion of race and gender studies.
Treva Patton, partnership lead at YouthTruth, said there are steps school districts can take to implement a more inclusive curriculum.
“I think it starts by just having the conversation, right? Looking and examining the existing curriculum,” said Patton. “Students have even noticed that there’s a separation, and asked for additional funding for extra classes. One student said, ‘I wish the school had more funding for extra class choices.'”
She added that districts need to not only examine their current courses, but ask students for input, and then work with experts in the field to develop a stronger curriculum.
Patton said she feels the backlash that some Black history courses are facing is a product of not having more student, family and community input.
YouthTruth surveyed more than 28,000 high school seniors from the class of 2022 and the class of 2019 in 19 states, including New York.
The College Board offers several courses on different cultures and histories, and only one on African American history so far. Much of the backlash was prompted by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who has banned it from being offered in schools there.
Patton said the survey confirms that students are concerned about the trend.
“Students are recognizing that they’re not being represented in the classroom,” said Patton. “One student said, ‘We also don’t talk about racism and how it’s affecting us as students. I want to learn about things that affect me, and my family and friends – mainly about Black culture and history.'”
The survey also found students of color expect their schools to enact and champion anti-racist policies. And the number of young people who said they feel the adults in their school “treat students with respect” jumped from 57% before the pandemic, to 70% in 2021.