By Isaac Rosso Klakovich and Landis Urquhart
Last year, the College Board changed the curriculum for AP U.S. History. While some supported the change, others did not. The major change was that the curriculum was shifting a focus on specific historical facts and dates to a focus on critical thinking. This year, some states are thinking about, or have already changed their curriculum once again.
The main reason people are trying to change what is taught is they feel that AP U.S. History is unpatriotic and focuses too heavily on the negative aspects of the U.S.’s history. The main people who feel this way are Republican Representatives, who are hoping that they can restructure the curriculum to create a more positive portrayal of America.
“I can’t see how studying the past to see where we made mistakes, but also where we did the right thing, made the right choices, could be considered unpatriotic if the goal is to strive for a more perfect union.” said East AP U.S. History teacher Maureen Galvin.
One of the people who has taken the most initiative to change the curriculum is Republican representative Dan Fisher from the Oklahoma House of Representatives, who sponsored a bill that would ban AP U.S. History in Oklahoma. The bill, Bill 1380, was passed by a margin of 11-4 in February.
“We don’t want our tax dollars going to a test that undermines our history,” Fisher declared during a committee debate.
While Oklahoma may be a more extreme example, these thoughts are being felt by Republicans across the nation all of whom are claiming that the class is far too liberal in its portrayal of America. Colorado, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Texas are all questioning whether or not AP U.S. History should be taught in their schools at all.
Presidential hopeful Ben Carson also expressed concerns with the course at the Center for Security Policy’s National Security Action Summit saying, “I think most people, when they finish that course, they’d be ready to go sign up for ISIS.”
While many politicians feel this change is just, it does not necessarily represent the thoughts of students, teachers, and parents. With the possibility of a ban on AP courses in several states, many teachers would lose their jobs, and students would appear less impressive to colleges looking at students from other states as well.
“There’s a great curriculum called, Facing History in Ourselves,” said Galvin, who agreed with these sentiments. “Their idea is that history is all about the choices that people have made, and those choices have driven history, and whether those choices are for good or for bad, if we look at how people made choices then we can think about how we as a people make choices today, and perhaps have the example whether its for good or for bad to follow.”
One of the states to recently implement a new curriculum and a new exam is Texas. In this curriculum many aspects of the civil rights movement have been erased, including Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King Jr. They have also removed the Holocaust from World War II. While most states have not implemented new curriculum, many are following in Texas’s footsteps and moving towards legislation.
In general many states are concerned that this curriculum is coming from the National College Board and not from inside the state. This is especially true for Kansas and Oklahoma where the State legislature is threatening to ban all curriculum developed out of state per the Washington Post. This would ban all AP courses as well as International Baccalaureate courses.
Whether it is creationism, abistance, or slavery, there has always been controversy over what should be taught to students in public school. With these recent developments concerning AP U.S. History censorship and the public outcry over that censorship, it is clear that what students learn in school will be a contested subject for years to come.
Photos Courtesy of: www.huffingtonpost.com and Jim Beckel