In announcing that New Jersey would expand its Advanced Placement (AP) African American Studies classes, Gov. Phil Murphy was direct in his condemnation of Florida and their Governor, Republican Ron DeSantis.
“As governors like Florida’s Ron DeSantis prioritize political culture wars ahead of academic success, New Jersey will proudly teach our kids that Black History is American History,” said Murphy in his statement announcing the expansion to coincide with Black History Month. “While the DeSantis Administration stated that AP African American Studies ‘significantly lacks educational value’, New Jersey will stand on the side of teaching our full history.”
The AP African American Studies class, which is currently in its first stage of a two-year pilot program across the country, will be taught in 26 New Jersey high schools during the 2023-2024 academic year. Currently, the class is offered in one New Jersey school out of 60 nationwide.
The backdrop to Murphy’s comments come as both governor’s have been named as potential candidates for President in 2024. The buzz for Murphy has dimmed as President Joe Biden’s polling numbers have gone up, especially after a predicted Congressional Red Wave failed to materialize last Fall. As for DeSantis, a recent Monmouth poll showed him currently leading Donald Trump in head-to-head matchup to be the GOP nominee.
The DeSantis Administration recently rejected the College Board’s Advanced Placement African American Studies course because “in Florida, we do education not indoctrination, and so that runs afoul of our standards,” said DeSantis. Concerns about six topics of study in the yearlong course, such as the Black Lives Matter movement, Black feminism and reparations, were cited. Many of the objections were tied to the inclusion of texts from modern Black writers and history teachers, whose writings the DeSantis administration believes violate state laws.
The Battle over Woke
The law being violated is Florida’s Stop the Wrongs to Our Kids and Employees (W.O.K.E.) Act, which Republican lawmakers in that state passed to ban the teaching of critical race theory and barring instruction that suggests anyone is privileged or oppressed based on their race or skin color in their schools.
But Murphy and Newark Mayor Ras Baraka, whose own father’s writings have been cited as being inappropriate material to be taught in a classroom, did not shy away from the “woke” argument.
“I don’t have a problem with being woke because the opposite of that is being asleep,” said Baraka during the event held in Newark Feb. 14. “If they’re trying to make being ‘woke’ political it just doesn’t make sense. They’re telling everybody they should be asleep so they can do things they have no business doing, or say things that doesn’t make sense while undermining democracy in this country.”
Murphy: Trying to Divide Us
“This country cannot afford to teach a revisionist history because doing so will only ensure that we repeat the mistakes of the past,” stated Baraka.
“When they call something ‘woke’ they’re changing the subject,” argued Murphy. “They’re dividing us and they’re denying actual, verifiable American history. I think they think if they can hide from that history ‘we will be better for it, it’ll be the other people’s issue… We believe the opposite, as painful as it might be.”
As for the course itself, Newark since 2020 has included units of study for K-11 that focus on Black History. In the 2023-2024 academic year, six schools in Newark will offer the AP African American Studies class. The announcement was made when state and local lawmakers visited an African American History class taught by Alnazir Blackman, who will teach AP African American Studies at Science Park High School in the next academic year.
“It is an honor to teach AP African American History as it represents an opportunity to provide our students with deep, engaging exploration and discussion of our experiences in the United States of America,” said Blackman. “I am certain the ancestors would be pleased to know that we have come to a place in our journey worthy of an AP course.”
Murphy said the expansion of the AP course “will grant our students the opportunity to learn about the innumerable ways in which Black Americans have shaped and strengthened our country. We will set an example for the nation by demonstrating to our future leaders that our country is the greatest in the world because it is a work in progress, a promise, and an ideal we strive to achieve.”
So we’re at the point where radical right-wing regressives are labeling basic facets of American history “woke” and using that as a pretext for draconian state censorship. Good grief what will they call “woke” next? The fourth of July?
Republicans, like DeSantis, cannot win an election without the support of the white supremist and racist members of their party, and they understand this. Likewise, although 90% of American Citizens, support some form of national gun control to protect our children and to keep guns out of the hands of extremists, radicals and the mental ill, Ron DeSantis understands this also, and he knows needs their vote and their financial support of their PAC’s and donors in order to be elected. If you look at history, DeSantis follows a very fascist, government control, and government knows best model. DeSantis bans books, eliminates access to opinions that he disagrees with, and then controls this with laws. I do not need the government telling me or my children what the can or cannot read or discuss. This is my responsibility as an adult and as a parent. The elimination of “Free Speech” is a very slippery slope.
Ron DeSantis is George Wallace light. CRT is a graduate level course. Ron plays to his ignorant, racist base. Banning facts is so Putinesque.
The right wing has captured “woke” as a bludgeon for anything they don’t like and want to whitewash. The insanity displayed by most Republicans these days boggles the mind. What a tragedy for our country that these boors have to be taken seriously. “Truth, justice and the American way” all seem to be on long-term hiatus. I wish I knew how to get them back (hint: it isn’t by revising history to a “patriotic” “education” or by letting criminals skate).
To hell with Marxism
There is little factual in CRT
Actually we’re at the point where radical left wing regressives are promoting Marixst narratives so gullible low-information voters such as yourself can gobble it up
If the armies of God appear, the woke better hope they don’t ask me to lead anything, because I’ll be 3d printing gulillotines in times square
North Jersey News is a Marxist woke lying entity
As a veteran of the US Civil Rights movement, I am gratified that these courses will be taught in US high schools. I learned these truths the hard way, in the Jim Crow south. Our history is precious! We need to honor those who suffered, struggled and died to win our freedoms and never forget how fragile those freedoms are. White people who are offended need to face up to the cost of their privileged status in blood, sweat and tears. It’s past time to repent of racism and its ugly injustices and make amend where we can.
I would suggest it’s generally reasonable to review additional information from other sources as well before calling people ignorant and racist, and accusing them of ‘banning facts’. The areas DeSantis had issues with were not facts, but theory or visions.
Below are excerpts from a CBS News report by Aaron Navarro 1/23/23, and below that some excepts from a WSJ Editorial 2/1/23 on this topic…also note that Movements for Black Lives, noted below on multiple occasions (M4BL.org), is an organization that supports reparations, abolishing prisons, and abolishing capitalism, among other visions/demands which you can access at the tab titled Vision for Black Lives, on their website.
CBS News: In a one-page letter outlining concerns with the course, the FDOE takes issue with six topics listed within the proposed course curriculum, and their proposed readings: intersectionality and activism, Black queer studies, “Movements for Black Lives,” “Black Feminist Literary Thought,” reparations, and “Black Study and the Black Struggle in the 21st Century.”
In their concern with the topic of “Black Queer Studies,” the FDOE notes there is a required reading by Yale University professor Roderick Ferguson, who is listed as a professor of women’s, gender and sexuality studies. The FDOE pointed to an interview where he said, “We have to encourage and develop practices whereby queerness isn’t a surrender to the status quos of race, class, gender and sexuality. It means building forms of queerness that reject the given realities of the government and the market.”
DeSantis on Monday said the course is “somebody pushing an agenda on our kids” and said “who would say that an important part of Black history is queer theory?
“When you try to use black history to shoehorn in queer theory, you are clearly trying to use that for political purposes,” he added.
DeSantis also noted his department’s issue with the “Movements for Black Lives” topic, including the movement to eliminate prisons and jails.
“How is that being taught as fact?” DeSantis said. “And I also think it’s not fair to say that somehow abolishing prisons is somehow linked to, like, Black experience, that’s what Black people want. I don’t think that’s true at all. I think they want law and order just like anybody else wants law and order,” he said.
“That is more of ideology being used under the guise of history,” he said. “That’s what our standards for Black history are. It’s just cut and dried history. You learn all the basics, you learn about the great figures, and you know, I view it as American history. I don’t view it as separate history.”
In their list of concerns, the FDOE also characterized “intersectionality,” or the connection of race, class and gender and how they are applied to a certain group, as “foundational to [critical race theory].”
The FDOE also took issue with proposed readings not just from Ferguson but also from law professor Kimberle Crenshaw, who the department calls the “founder” of intersectionality; activist Angela Davis, who they cite as a “self-avowed Communist and Marxist”‘; Rutgers professor Leslie Kay Jones and the late feminist author bell hooks.
And they say “all points in resources in this study advocate for reparations. There is no critical perspective or balancing opinion in this lesson.”
Florida law requires the study of African American history in schools, from slavery through abolition to “the history and contributions of Americans of the African diaspora to society.” DeSantis on Monday noted that this AP course is a separate course than the one for advanced placement credit.
The statute that requires the teaching of African American history, says “classroom instruction and curriculum may not be used to indoctrinate or persuade students to a particular point of view inconsistent with the principles enumerated in… the state academic standards.”
CBS News has reached out to the College Board for a statement and a copy of the course’s syllabus. DeSantis press secretary Bryan Griffin said in a statement the course “is a vehicle for a political agenda and leaves large, ambiguous gaps that can be filled with additional ideological material, which we will not allow.”
California Governor Gavin Newsom, a Democrat who has criticized DeSantis and helped his challenger Charlie Crist in 2022, Tweeted that DeSantis “has decided black history is irrelevant and ‘lacks educational value.'”
WSJ:The College Board’s CEO is calling the revised course “an unflinching encounter with the facts and evidence of African-American history.” One thing driving the changes, he said, was that students in the pilot class were engaged by primary sources, but they found the academic theories “quite dense.”
No kidding. As one course description put it: “This topic examines intersectionality as an analytical framework and its connection to Chicana and Asian American feminist thought.” Who thought teenagers would find such stuff scintillating?
The AP’s updated framework is 234 pages, and it’ll be interesting to see how it’s received by historians of all persuasions, not to mention Florida’s Education Department. Beyond the excisions, the required reading now includes an excerpt from former Secretary of State Rice’s 2012 speech to the Republican presidential convention, which is at least a gesture toward diversity of thought.
“A little girl grows up in Jim Crow Birmingham,” Ms. Rice told the crowd and the country watching, “the segregated city of the South, where her parents can’t take her to a movie theater or to a restaurant. But they have her absolutely convinced that even if she can’t have a hamburger at the Woolworth’s lunch counter, she could be President of the United States if she wanted to be, and she becomes the Secretary of State. Yes, America has a way of making the impossible seem inevitable in retrospect, but we know it was never inevitable.”
Murphy…it’s above your pay grade.
Raise up your glass
To good king John
there is little factual in GOP…. woke culture is a false narrative designed by the GOP to scare and anger bigoted voters to the point they show up at the polls.
How many of Marx’s works have you personally read? Or are you using the term Marxist the way most people on the right do, meaning “something Im not supposed to like because Fox news says it’s bad”
What’s wrong with reparations? You’ll probably say “we can’t afford it” but what you really mean is “I don’t like black people”…