The newest AP

Junior Miren Boda agonizes over Palo Alto High School’s senior social studies elective offerings. The course selection deadline is approaching fast, and she’s torn. If the new AP African American studies course had been available, Boda said taking that for her senior year would have been a no-brainer.

AP African American Studies — which isn’t coming to Paly, at least not yet — explores the robust contributions and experiences of African Americans to U.S. history. It touches on fields ranging from literature and the arts to science and geography, according to the College Board website. However, the curriculum was edited after Florida banned the class, according to the New York Times (check sidebar).

This course was piloted at 60 high schools this year, and all high schools will have the option to offer it in the 2024-2025 school year, according to the College Board

1.3% of Paly students are Black, compared to the 5% average for California public high schools, according to the rankings and demographics website US News. Senior Wyeth Minami said this class would be beneficial to offer because of that.

“Speaking about African American people, this isn’t a very diverse school,” Minami said. “So I think it would be a good opportunity for people to learn a lot more about the culture and the community and the history surrounding African Americans.”

Junior Grace Gormley said AP African American Studies would be beneficial because Paly is lacking in other history AP offerings.

“The only AP history class we have is AP U.S. History,” she said. “And I think history is an insanely important thing to know to be on top of what’s going on in today’s world.”

As far as Paly adopting the curriculum, Social Sciences Instructional Lead Mary Sano said the department is prioritizing the new California graduation requirement of Ethnic Studies. This graduation requirement will take effect in California starting with the graduating class of 2029-30 (current fifth graders). 

“We’re focused on that [Ethnic Studies] and everything that comes with that new requirement so we have not even given a thought to this new offering,” Sano said.  

Sano also said the department values genuine learning over the prestige of a class. 

“Adding on more APs just because they’re APs is not necessarily something that’s at the top of our list, when what is at the top of our list is teaching these classes in which all the voices in the room with all this diversity of skills and experience, are what drive the discussions and the richness of our classrooms,” Sano said.

Sano said that although adding the class is not the department’s first priority, it should be considered at some point.

“The fact that this is particularly an African American Studies class is interesting,” she said. “And definitely worth at least at first a department discussion.”