LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – As students make their way back to school this week, there is discussion flooding social media over the status of one high school advanced placement course.
Several organizations and lawmakers are speaking out after former state senator Joyce Elliott tweeted a photo Friday afternoon, just days before students returned to class, seemingly showing that AP African American Studies had been deleted from the Arkansas Department of Education course lists.
State officials said the class still exists, though there is just confusion about what kind of class it is.
The spokesperson for Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders tweeted that this is a pilot course – as defined by the Advanced Placement Program – and is still undergoing some changes.
She also said because the exam was not offered to students last school year, it may not count as a college credit like other AP courses.
Additionally, there is a current African American History class that students can receive high school credit for and are even encouraged to take.
Spokesperson for the Arkansas Department of Education Kimberly Mundell also sent a statement noting that “the department encourages the teaching of all American history and supports rigorous courses not based on opinions or indoctrination.”
Meantime, the confusion came just days before students went back to school for the new year. Central High School student Ryleigh Gaston spoke about the course, which she still took on her first day.
“I think the class is very important because it gives you insight on how the world or just this country operates,” Gaston said.
Gaston said she is just one of nearly 100 students in her school enrolled in the course, and she added that she was shocked on Friday reading tweets about her AP course.
“AP African American studies is a very informative class and I hope a lot of students can take it,” Gaston said.
Additionally, Kymara Seals with the Arkansas Public Policy Panel spoke about the news and said the confusion feels like an insult to the black community.
“We’ll have to do some pushback and ask some questions and go to meetings and just be a mouthpiece for this to actually happen,” Seals said.
The ADE spokesperson also said Arkansas has an African American History course listed in the ADE course code management system for 2023-2024.
It is not an AP course, but students who complete the course are eligible for high school credit. She said the state is working with districts on an honors version of this course so students can benefit from a rigorous experience.