Two longtime teachers at Sacred Heart Preparatory in Atherton are petitioning the College Board to add an Advanced Placement class in U.S. Women’s History which would include a new AP test on the subject.
Kirsten Kelly and Serene Williams first started teaching a women's history class at Sacred Heart a decade ago. Then, they received a grant from Harvard University’s Schlesinger Library to add some women-authored readings to the existing advanced placement (AP) U.S. government class, as all the required readings determined by the College Board were written by men.
“Women were only a sidebar of information,” Kelly said. “Even in the Bay Area, highly educated people only know those five or six women they learned about.”
After conducting research to add more material for the AP US Government class, they realized that women's history needed to be its own class and got to work creating a curriculum.
The petition, which is being promoted by Kelly and Williams as well as a team of students, has garnered over 1,600 signatures as of July 3. The team plans to promote the class at events such as the annual National Council for the Social Studies conference and the annual American Historical Association conference.
High school students can earn college credits by taking AP classes and scoring well on the standardized test that accompanies the course.
Their proposed curriculum has an intersectional lens that includes lessons about women of color, reproductive rights and LGBTQ+ figures. Because of this, there are concerns that the proposed class could face pushback from Republican-led states like Florida, where courses such as AP African American studies are being restricted from being taught at schools.
Williams and Kelly said they are undeterred.
“A lot of people are focusing on the aversions, but there is a big interest and I think that we will persevere,” Williams said.
“It’s unbelievable that in 2023 women are not half of the historical curriculum.” Kelley said. “They have always been half of the human experience and historical narrative.”
The petition and information about the proposed curriculum are online at womenshistoryinhighschool.com.