AP African American History offered next year at McLean

New course offering at McLean gives different perspective of American history


Ingrid Shumway

Fliers of the new AP African American studies course can be found around classrooms in McLean.

As controversy spreads around the country about Florida governor Ron De Santis banning AP African American studies in schools, McLean has seemingly placed their stance on the issue, offering the course for students beginning next year. History teacher Annie Daggett is set to teach the course, starting in the 2023-24 school year.

“This year is the first year the course is being piloted in the United States with only 60 schools offering it,” Daggett said. “Next year, they are expanding it to 100 more, with McLean possibly to be one of those if there are enough students.”

Because the course is new to schools, no AP test was included this year, but instead will be instated for the first time during the spring of 2024. The course needs at least 20 McLean students in order for it to run, and students are helping spread the word.

“I think it’s good that McLean is leading the movement to further educate students on African American history,” junior Bennet Brunner said. “I think it’s important to understand that learning multiple perspectives is good, instead of teaching a strict ideology.”

African American history contrasts from other history classes at McLean, which many believe to be told from a Eurocentric view (conveying Europeans as being more distinguished than other cultures). The new course offers historic views through a different lens than what most students are used to.

“It’s important to not look at history from one perspective,” Daggett said. “I think it’s very important for marginalized people and groups that didn’t have voices before to be heard in schools and in education.”

At the same time, the College Board is trying to limit access to the course’s curriculum in an effort to reduce criticism of the course. After Governor De Santis prohibited teaching of the course in Florida, the College Board faces a threat of other states following.

“[College Board] is keeping a lot of the curriculum under wraps because they don’t want a lot of people having criticisms of it before the material is fully developed,” Daggett said.

The course is known for its alternative style of learning from other AP classes, with an emphasis on class discussions. While most other AP courses at McLean are taken for college credits, the work needed for this course requires critical thinking through interactive lessons.

“Since it’s a class that’s testing more unconventional teaching methods, students will be interested in the class because it’s not as much about receiving a credit and more about having insightful conversations,” Brunner said.

For students looking for a new course that offers a fresh perspective on history, AP African American History may be a course of interest. The content of the course keeps up with current news events and issues regarding race in America.

“I think it’s a very important class,” Daggett said. “I took it in college and I thought it was very interesting and important to have a different perspective of American history.”