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Think Again: Little Rock School District Teaches AP African American Studies Despite State Laws

The Little Rock School District (LRSD) in Arkansas is doing what it wants.

Despite new rulings by state education officials stating students enrolled in AP African American studies courses would not receive college credit, the historical school district said it will offer the course for credit, CNN reported.

In a statement, LRSD said that students were excited to take the course, and considering the district’s history, it was proud to offer it. “We are fortunate to have one of the foremost subject matter experts leading the instruction at Central High School who has expressed that her students are enthusiastic about the opportunity to take the course,” the statement read. “AP African American Studies will allow students to explore the complexities, contributions, and narratives that have shaped the African American experience throughout history, including Central High School’s integral connection.”

Close to 100 students at Central have enrolled in the course this year.

Central is a pivotal landmark in the Civil Rights movement. Nine Black students in 1957 enrolled in the school, testing the Brown vs. Board of Education ruling declaring the end of segregated public schools. Nicknamed the “Little Rock Nine,” the students were met with an angry white mob on the first day, blocking the entrance.

New laws handed down by Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders are targeting the ban on “teachings that would indoctrinate students with ideologies,” including critical race theory, discussions on gender nonconformity, and sexuality, according to The New York Times. Not only would the enrolled students not receive college credit, the education department won’t offer assistance with test fees. However, LRSD guaranteed that the fees—on average, $98 per exam—would be taken care of.

April Reisma, president of the Arkansas Education Association, applauded the district for being so bold in their stance but also said teachers offering the course were very concerned about job security. “They can be let go at any moment for any reason,” Reisma said.

After students expressed their unhappiness, the College Board said the course would receive another round of revisions before a final version was released publicly. According to the College Board, 700 schools will pilot the class this year, with 200 colleges agreeing to accept credit for the course.