Some schools in Little Rock, North Little Rock and Jonesboro are calling the Arkansas Department of Education’s bluff, saying they’ll continue offering AP African American studies despite the threat that they will be defunded and discredited.
The Little Rock School DIstric’s Central High, North Little Rock High School, Jacksonville High and the Academies at Jonesboro, as well as charter schools North Little Rock Center for Excellence and eStem High School, have all confirmed that they will offer the course and calculate grades on the same elevated, 5-point GPA scale as other Advanced Placement classes, Arkansas Times reported.
A message informed eStem parents that the department’s decision was last minute and noted that students were already a week into the new school year. eStem has decided to still offer the class and also award the school’s first Medal of Historical Pursuit and Valor to students who complete it, the outlet added.
The schools are looking into ways to cover test costs for the AP African American Studies exam since the state will not, noting the state covers the costs for all other AP classes.
It remains unclear why the education department waited until the Friday before announcing that the course would not be recognized or count towards graduation credits. More than 700 schools across 40 states and Washington, D.C., will offer the class this school year.
Arkansas teachers who trained over the summer to qualify to teach the course received phone calls Friday from an education department official letting them know its decision and only provided a statement that said in part, the class is“based on opinions or indoctrination,” and said teaching it may even violate state law. Arkansas Education Secretary Jacob Oliva also threw out outher reasons for the decision to not honor AP African American Studies, but those were slammed.
Oliva left a job in Ron DeSantis’ Florida Department of Education to come to Arkansas. Oliva has policed policy rewrites on locker rooms, pronouns and other LGBTQ issues as required by Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” law.