Following Oklahoma‘s example, Georgia conservatives are trying to undercut the Advanced Placement US history courses in their state. On March 11 the Georgia Senate passed a bill (SR80) that threatens to defund the program if they do not get what they want: a mythic history promoting American “exceptionalism” and the unfounded assumption that this is a Christian nation. They complain that the AP course as it stands “glosses over or inaccurately reflects people and ideas including the nation’s Founding Fathers, the Judeo-Christian influences on the country’s development and U.S. foreign policy as outlined in the Monroe Doctrine.” If they get their way, this would set a very bad precedent in which an ideologically driven legislature can dictate what counts as history. We all need to speak out against this blatantly partisan attempt to hijack education for ideological purposes!
Senate targets AP history courses as too ‘radically revisionist’ | www.ajc.com.
This is a comical “More Patriotic AP history test” from Funny or Die. It’s just what the conservatives ordered! This is my favorite question:
It was okay to use civil disobedience tactics during the Boston Tea Party because:
a.) it was white people doing it
b.) just shut up, alright?
c.) hey, look over there! >>>>>>>>>>
d.) seriously, there’s this really cute dog doing something crazy! you’re missing it!!! >>>>>>>>>>>
To see the entire test go to:
The New, More Patriotic AP History Test from Pat O’Brien and FOD News.
Oklahoma makes Arizona seem reasonable (at least for now!). There is a new bill in Oklahoma intended to defund AP U.S. History. Conservatives complain that students are taught only a negative view of America. Apparently they want students to be indoctrinated in a patriotic history that ignores what actually happened!
From Think Progress: “Oklahoma Rep. Dan Fisher (R) has introduced ’emergency’ legislation ‘prohibiting the expenditure of funds on the Advanced Placement United States History course.’ Fisher is part of a group called the “Black Robe Regiment” which argues ‘the church and God himself has been under assault, marginalized, and diminished by the progressives and secularists.’ The group attacks the ‘false wall of separation of church and state.’ The Black Robe Regiment claims that a ‘growing tide of special interest groups indoctrinating our youth at the exclusion of the Christian perspective.’”
Oklahoma Lawmakers Vote Overwhelmingly To Ban Advanced Placement U.S. History | ThinkProgress.
The authors of The Idea of America argue for a history that “empowers students to become engaged citizens of our 21st century nation” rather than the patriotic history that the opponents of the new AP guidelines are pushing for. “Central to teaching and learning history must be the ability to evaluate opposing ideas, the quest to balance democratic values, and compromise in policymaking. This requires cultivating the ‘democratic mind’ in students and citizens. The democratic mind does not see the world in terms of “either/or.” It is more sophisticated, constantly seeking a way to reconcile values that seem at odds with each other.” I believe that this is a more engaging and productive way of teaching history than the patriotic version that relies on a myopic view of history.
History News Network | What the Opponents of the New AP Standards Don’t Get.
Students in Colorado protested against the conservative school board’s attempt to impose an ideologically driven U.S. history on students. One of the conservative school board members, Julie Williams, complained that the current Advanced Placement curriculum emphasized “race, gender, class, ethnicity, grievance and American-bashing.” In a History New Network article, Peter Dreier, the chair of the Urban & Environmental Policy Department, at Occidental College, is calling on “The American Historical Association (AHA) and the Organization of American Historians (OAH) should honor these students for standing up to their school board’s effort to distort U.S. history around a blatantly political agenda.”
History News Network | Historians Should Honor Protesting Colorado Students.
see also this Associated Press article on the Colorado student protest.
The anthropologist Peter Wood wrote an article last week on the History News Network (“Why Conservatives Are Up in Arms at the College Board’s Advanced Placement Course in History”) charging the College Board with politicizing the new Advanced Placement History standards. He claims that the new standards are “a radical interpretation of American history—one in which figures such as Franklin, Jefferson, and Madison play a drastically reduced part.”
Fred Anderson, a professor of History at the University of Colorado, participated in the creation of the new standards. In a new article, he challenges Wood’s interpretation of the new standards. Instead of politicizing the course, Anderson explains, they “hoped that future AP students would emerge from the course not just with a fund of facts at their disposal, but knowing how to ask productive questions about the past, and understanding why historical arguments must be governed, always and only, by the evidence.” And concludes that “Dr. Wood’s tortured reading of the Framework and his blanket denunciation of academic historians suggests that he, too, might pause to reflect on the values of rigor, impartiality, thoroughness, and intellectual honesty that were, in the end, all we hoped to foster.”
I admit, I find the charges that historians are “out to deconstruct American claims to exceptionalism” troubling. Historians are not in the business of myth-making and most teachers would rather teach their students history not myth. The kind of black and white thinking that only admits of two choices (either we are perfect or we are malevolent) is dangerous. To indoctrinate our children in myths of perfection is to create a culture of arrogance and stagnation. We should learn from our mistakes, not ignore them. The willingness to admit mistakes and learn from them is not un-American it is what makes America great.
“Without debate, without criticism, no Administration and no country can succeed–and no republic can survive.” JFK Presidential Library and Museum