Some experts are wary. Cheryl Harris, a lawyer at the University of California, Los Angeles, and a leading thinker on critical race theory, helped organize the May 3 protest. In an interview Monday, she said she hoped the Executive Board had learned it couldn’t appease a political movement that sought, in her words, to “censor and suppress” ideas.
An analysis last year by the education publication Chalkbeat found that 36 states had moved to restricting education about race.
Professor Harris argued that scientists whose ideas had been removed from the Advanced Placement course should be involved in the process of revising the curriculum, to restore trust within the discipline and “bring a degree of transparency” into the development process.
She mentioned, among others, Kimberlé Crenshaw, the founder of the concept of intersectionality, which refers to the complex ways in which overlapping facets of identity, such as race, class, sex, and gender, shape individual experiences of the world.
The board of directors had high expectations for the course and introduced it at a magnificent reception in February at the National Museum of African American History and Culture, part of the Smithsonian. In its recent statement, the board said interest in the African-American college class was widespread across the country, with 800 schools and 16,000 students expected to take the pilot course during the next school year, up from 60 schools this year.
Matthew Guterl, a professor of Africana and American studies at Brown, had criticized the curriculum for “lacking the intellectual weight and moral urgency” students needed. Commenting on the news that the College Board was planning to review the curriculum again, he said, “They may be realizing now that they can no longer be Ron DeSantis supplicants.”
Anemona Hartocollis reporting contributed.