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Several Fairfax County School Board Members Call on Youngkin Administration to Promptly Approve AP African-American Studies Course

"Black History must merit more than an honorable mention every February."

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From Fairfax County School Board member Stella Pekarsky:

Pekarsky, School Board Members Call For Prompt Approval of AP African-American Studies Course

FAIRFAX COUNTY – Fairfax County School Board members Stella Pekarsky, Rachna Sizemore Heizer, Laura Jane Cohen, and Karl Frisch pressed the Youngkin administration to not impede approval of the AP African-American Studies course.

“We have a moral obligation to teach our students about both the darkest times from our past and the inspiring progress we have made as a country. The AP African-American Studies course offers this important objective in a way that also provides our students with valuable college credit,” the School Board members wrote to Governor Youngkin and Education Secretary Guidera.

“As the entry point for the first enslaved Africans in the colonies and home to the nation’s first Black governor, Virginia has been the backdrop for vital pieces of African-American history. Black History must merit more than an honorable mention every February. We must expand our study of the past and present, not restrict it,” the board members continued.

School Board member Stella Pekarsky added the following statement: “This action follows a disturbing national trend of attempts to restrict teaching and learning. From banning books to baseless attacks on hard working educators, public education faces many attacks, and this action leaves no doubt that those threats have reached Virginia.”

Full text of the letter is available below:

Governor Youngkin and Secretary Guidera:

We write to express our concern over the administration’s decision to single out AP African-American Studies for review. This action, coupled with last year’s cancellation of Virginia’s Black History Month Historical Markers contest for students, and your administration’s upcoming changes to Virginia’s History and Social Studies Standards of learning, establish an alarming pattern of disregard for the academic needs of the Commonwealth’s students.

The AP African-American Studies course “draws from a variety of fields – history, literature, the arts, geography, science – to explore the vital contributions and experiences of African Americans,” according to the College Board. The course allows for robust discussion and debate within the classroom and gives students an opportunity to pursue independent research. Over 300 educators contributed to this course’s development. These educators, professionals in curriculum development and history, bring unparalleled expertise to the table.

As the entry point for the first enslaved Africans in the colonies and home to the nation’s first Black governor, Virginia has been the backdrop for vital pieces of African-American history. We have a moral obligation to teach our students about both the darkest times from our past and the inspiring progress we have made as a country. The AP African-American Studies course offers this important objective in a way that also provides our students with valuable college credit. We should applaud and support our students’ desire to pursue rigorous curriculum offerings, not deny them these opportunities.

Black History must merit more than an honorable mention every February. We must expand our study of the past and present, not restrict it. As elected School Board members who believe diversity is one of Virginia’s greatest strengths, we urge you not to impede the teaching of AP African-American Studies.

Sincerely,

Stella Pekarsky
Rachna Sizemore Heizer
Laura Jane Cohen
Karl Frisch

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