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Why Oklahoma Lawmakers Voted to Ban AP U.S. History

Posted by on Feb. 18, 2015 at 6:45 PM
  • 64 Replies

Why Oklahoma Lawmakers Voted to Ban AP U.S. History

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Students in Stephanie Rossi's AP U.S. History class on September 25, 2014. Rossi opposes efforts to change the course in Jefferson County, Colorado. Photo: Andy Cross/Copyright - 2014 The Denver Post, MediaNews Group.

This week in things we wish were just a Colbert Report sketch, an Oklahoma legislative committee overwhelmingly approved a bill that would cut funding for the teaching of Advanced Placement U.S. History. The 11 Republicans who approved the measure over the objections of four Democrats weren't trying to win over Oklahoma's lazy high-school juniors. Tulsa World reports that Representative Dan Fisher, who introduced the bill, lamented during Monday's hearing that the new AP U.S. History framework emphasizes "what is bad about America" and doesn't teach "American exceptionalism." It's a complaint that's been spreading among mostly conservative state legislatures in recent months and has some calling for a ban on all AP courses.

Earlier this month, the Georgia state Senate introduced a resolution that rejects a new version of the AP U.S. History course for presenting a "radically revisionist view of American history" and minimizing "discussion of America’s Founding Fathers, the principles of the Declaration of Independence, [and] the religious influences on our nation’s history." It says that if the College Board does not revise the test, Georgia will cut funding for the course. The exam has also sparked controversy in TexasNorth CarolinaSouth Carolina, and Colorado, where students in Jefferson County protested last fall when a school-board member said the course should be modified to promote "patriotism" and discourage "civil disorder, social strife, or disregard of the law."

The conservative lawmakers' issues with the course, which was taken by 344,938 students in 2013, can be traced back to retired high-school history teacher Larry S. Krieger. Two years ago, the College Board released arevised framework for the exam, which took effect this fall. Krieger was incensed by the changes. "As I read through the document, I saw a consistently negative view of American history that highlights oppressors and exploiters," he said during a conference call in August, according toNewsweek.

Krieger complained that the framework portrays the Founding Fathers as "bigots" and suggests that Manifest Destiny was "built on a belief in white racial superiority and a sense of American cultural superiority," rather than "the belief that America had a mission to spread democracy and new technology across the continent," as he put it. And instead of discussing the "the valor or heroism of American soldiers" during World War II, the course outline mentions U.S. internment camps and moral questions raised by the dropping of the atomic bomb.

It's emphasized throughout the 142-page document that the framework is "not a curriculum." It presents broad "key concepts" and "does not attempt to provide a list of groups, individuals, dates, or historical details, because it is each teacher’s responsibility to select relevant historical evidence of his or her own choosing to explore the key concepts of each period in depth." It also claims, "these thematic learning objectives are written in a way that does not promote any particular political position or interpretation of history."

Nevertheless, when Krieger began working with Jane Robbins, an opponent of Common Core, and promoting the issue via op-eds and an open letter to the College Board, conservative groups found plenty of historical interpretations they didn't like. These included everything from more focus on minorities to a reference to President Reagan's "bellicose rhetoric." Their effort got a huge boost when the Republican National Committee adopted a resolution last August that said the framework "reflects a radically revisionist view of American history." The RNC called on Congress to withhold funding from the College Board until it presented a revised version of the exam that "accurately reflects U.S. history without a political bias" and respects the standards of individual states.

Some conservatives were also suspicious of the College Board because its president, David Coleman, helped develop Common Core standards. In response to the RNC resolution, the College Board released a sample test, and Coleman noted in a letter that the new framework was developed before he joined the organization.

However, critics still weren't satisfied with the exam, and some lawmakers have conflated Common Core and the AP. While taking AP courses is voluntary and schools are not required to offer them, during Monday's debate in Oklahoma, lawmakers suggested that all AP exams are an attempt to impose a national curriculum and may violate legislation that repealed Common Core in the state.

Moin Nadeem, an Oklahoma junior currently taking five AP courses, pushed back on Tuesday, creating a Change.org petition that he hopes will convince state lawmakers to change their position, according to Oklahoma Watch. It already has nearly 5,000 signatures. "My heart sank," Nadeem said of the vote. "It’s our right to learn. The state can’t say what we can and what we can’t learn."

by on Feb. 18, 2015 at 6:45 PM
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Replies (1-10):
barnowl73
by on Feb. 18, 2015 at 6:58 PM
I hate it when our lawmakers pull stupid shit like this crap. Its like they are TRYING to make the state look bad. It sucks being the buckle of the bible belt. We ALL are NOT backwards bible thumping rednecks they just Yell louder then every one else and make bigger fools of themselves.
FromAtoZ
by AllieCat on Feb. 18, 2015 at 7:05 PM

Lets dumb it down for our youth.  This pattern that is set in place regarding education, or lack thereof, is disheartening.  



Quote:

 for presenting a "radically revisionist view of American history" and minimizing "discussion of America’s Founding Fathers, the principles of the Declaration of Independence, [and] the religious influences on our nation’s history."


The above, this pretty much says it all.  They do not feel comfortable unless we spoon feed our youth that this country was, and should be, ruled by religion influence.  

I truly feel for my Grandchildren.  The education they will receive should they attend public schools will be of little use to them if all of this keeps up.

Della529
by on Feb. 18, 2015 at 7:14 PM

Problem is, the students, after doing their own research, are beginning to question a lot of what has been taught to previous generations.  My daughter has read the history books that I have from the turn of the last century, along with the history books I had in school.  She says the old ones are more in depth and without all the "pat ourselves on the back because we're Americans" that is in the ones I studied.

These old-school, white politicians can change the laws and screech to high heaven all they want, it won't change the students availability to question on their own what they are being "taught".

PamR
by Ruby Member on Feb. 18, 2015 at 8:30 PM
2 moms liked this

Pathetic and embarrassing to our country.  OK isn't the only state to do this kind of thing.  Students lose.  Why is teaching history or any topic, realistically, so awful?

Mommysmadae
by Member on Feb. 18, 2015 at 10:52 PM

Have any of you actually read some of the stuff in the textbook? Obviously not. It rewords simple things like the second amendment: The right to bear arms and words it to make it sound like only the military has the right to own fire arms. It's several things like that, that has people questioning the material. 

jessilin0113
by Ruby Member on Feb. 18, 2015 at 10:55 PM
5 moms liked this
Pay attention, class, because this will be on the test: "America! We're #1!!!"

-Celestial-
by Pepperlynn on Feb. 18, 2015 at 11:46 PM
2 moms liked this
Republicans need more voters. ..
Lady_Facetious
by Platinum Member on Feb. 19, 2015 at 2:17 AM
How does the book phrase the second ammendment?

Quoting Mommysmadae:

Have any of you actually read some of the stuff in the textbook? Obviously not. It rewords simple things like the second amendment: The right to bear arms and words it to make it sound like only the military has the right to own fire arms. It's several things like that, that has people questioning the material. 

AdrianneHill
by Ruby Member on Feb. 19, 2015 at 2:33 AM
If America's not the best at everything then we'll all be something bad. Reality be damned! We're special!
stringtheory
by Platinum Member on Feb. 19, 2015 at 2:44 AM
3 moms liked this
You think high school AP history students have not read or will not have access for reading the U.S. Constitution? My 12 year old read parts of it for a *gasp* public school class, including the second amendment, and has access to it for any assignment regarding the constitution. If Oklahoma public schools fail to teach critical thinking (which would entail consulting original documents, especially ones so readily available to everyone like the constitution) no American exceptionalism-based text book will fix that failure. The pissed off nationalists want AP students to continue thinking the U.S. is the only free country in the world and that every step toward that freedom was blessed by God when it simply isn't true. There was a lot of oppression and dishonesty despite the extremely laudable ideals our forefathers put forth, and those kids deserve to see the real sacrifices that produced the U.S., not the literally white-washed sacrifices. AP students can handle a few contextual biases,or Oklahoma is doing education wrong.

Quoting Mommysmadae:

Have any of you actually read some of the stuff in the textbook? Obviously not. It rewords simple things like the second amendment: The right to bear arms and words it to make it sound like only the military has the right to own fire arms. It's several things like that, that has people questioning the material. 

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