Hungarian Conservative

Conservative Success in Changing Controversial US High School Syllabus

The original syllabus of the now revised African American studies optional course in US high schools described America as a ‘white supremacist capitalist patriarchy’.

Conservative public figures and Republican politicians have been raising concerns about the infiltration of US public schools by Critical Race Theory (CRT) and ’woke indoctrination’ for years now. The main cause for concern is that theories such as Critical Race Theory rank individuals based on their group identities and advocate for the need to restructure American society due to its alleged ‘institutional racism’ or ‘white supremacy’. Critics highlight these theories’ lack of consideration for the improvements in racial equality in the US over the centuries’, and that the activist nature of these theories is at odds with what should be academic objectives.

Criticism from Florida

After reviewing concerns about the curriculum, CRT and other controversial content were removed from high school syllabuses. The US College Board, which oversees the curriculum, released the official syllabus for African American studies earlier this week.

In January, Florida Republicans started to raise awareness about the disputable sections in the syllabus of an optional course available in high schools. Upon the release of the first draft of the African American studies syllabus for the Advanced Placement (AP), which allows high school students in the United States to take college level courses before graduation, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis announced that he would not allow it to be taught in his state. Manny Diaz Jr., the Education Commissioner of Florida, also commented on the proposed syllabus on Twitter, saying: ‘Despite the lies from the Biden White House, Florida rejected an AP course filled with Critical Race Theory and other obvious violations of Florida law…We do not accept woke indoctrination masquerading as education.’ Florida Republicans denounced the syllabus for discussing the issue of reparations without critical assessment and openly advocating for reparations. Topics dedicated to modern political movements and trains of thought such as Black Lives Matter, or Black queer, intersectionality and black feminist studies were also deemed highly controversial for ranking people based on their race and sexual orientation as well as for labelling America as a ‘white supremacist capitalist patriarchy’. Some of the readings of the course included texts that called for the rejection of ‘given realities’ such as ‘government and the market’ and advocated for abolishing prisons.

Major Victory for CRT-skeptics

The revision of the syllabus has addressed most of the concerns of Florida Republicans, despite the fact that the US College Board claims that the majority of these changes were finalised in December, before Florida voiced its concerns—in other words, the Board insists that the revision did not happen due to political pressure. The changes include the discussion of intersectionality having been shortened, and topics dedicated to Black Lives Matter and Black struggle having been removed entirely. Some disputed readings and authors, such as Kimberlé Crenshaw (one of the founders of intersectionality) have also been removed.

Since the syllabus was also called out for its outright left-wing bias, showcasing mostly left-wing authors, a new section dedicated to black conservatism has been added as an idea for a research project for students taking the course. The US College Board has stated that the changes to the curriculum were made for pedagogical reasons, as some issues with the syllabus were revealed during the course’s test-run during the last academic year.

The original syllabus of the now revised African American studies optional course in US high schools described America as a ‘white supremacist capitalist patriarchy’.