The same man who was one of the lead architects in creating the Common Core State Standards Initiative, David Coleman, has now redesigned the Advanced Placement United States History (APUSH) course and exam. Aside from the fact that these huge changes have received almost no media coverage (possibly because the Common Core advocates at the Gates Foundation are now funding education coverage by NBC) and they greatly remove control from parents, teachers, and students, the revision aims to teach a biased version of American history that largely focuses on the supposed faults of our country rather than our accomplishments.
While multiple practice exams for the course were previously available to the public online, the College Board, the organization responsible for AP tests, will now only release a single practice exam to teachers of the course. If a teacher discloses the content of the sample exam, he will be penalized and possibly stripped of his right to teach Advanced Placement courses. This lack of transparency is an attempt to silence the public as well as to foster reliance on the state for education. Since students can no longer self-prep for the exam, they must take the course to discover what material will be covered on the exam.
Additionally, the redesigned course severely limits individual teachers’ flexibility in teaching the material. Previously, APUSH teachers received a five page overview of how to teach an AP course, now the College Board published a 142 page frameworkdictating specific topics teachers must cover as well as the manner in which they must be covered. Unfortunately, teachers are forced to use this framework if they want to give their students a chance to succeed on the exam and receive college credit for the course.
Along with the grand encroachment on teacher’s freedoms in the classroom, the material presented in the framework is clearly biased to portray American history from a Leftist point of view. The course morphs the discipline of history into a subject that more closely resembles sociology. The framework does not emphasize student knowledge of important figures and events that shaped our great nation but rather the development of “historical thinking skills” with much emphasis on changing roles of race and ethnicity, gender, social classes, and power relations throughout our country’s history. In fact, the required themes and objectives are: “Work, Exchange, and Technology; Identity; Ideas, Beliefs, and Culture; America in the World; Environment and Geography; Politics and Power; Peopling” with no mention of figures and events.
The philosophy behind the revision of APUSH is flawed in itself, but the view of history it seeks to present is historically dishonest and utterly dangerous to the future of our country. The most blatant inaccuracy is evident in the framework’s discussion of the Founding of our nation. Incredibly, George Washington is only mentioned in passing reference to his Farewell Address not in regards to his heroic sacrifices as a general and the first leader of our country. Furthermore, no other Founding Fathers are mentioned nor are any of the events or principles that led to the American War for Independence.
Most amazingly, neither the Declaration of Independence nor the Constitution are mentioned in great detail or even listed as suggested reading (however Betty Friedan’s The Feminist Mystique is suggested reading, placing it and other biased sources above some of the most important documents to the American people). The theories and principles behind these two founding works are never discussed and neither is any mention of how our government is organized. The lack of import placed on these essential documents does a great disservice to the future voters of this country and further promotes a reliance on the state for educating voters with what it deems necessary rather than allowing individuals to think for themselves.
What the framework does mention regarding the Founding of our nation (and in every historical period following) is the apparent tension and inequality among various minority groups. This topic is a major theme of the new course at the expense of the study of influential people and events that formed and maintained the United States. While it may be important to study the trends and conflicts between groups in America, it is academically dishonest to slant history to overwhelmingly focus on these aspects without, for example, mentioning major battles or political conflicts during the Civil War, the Gettysburg Address, the fact that Lincoln was assassinated, key details and motives in World War I, or even Hitler’s existence and prominence in World War II.
The new APUSH model is far from objective in what it chooses to cover (such as discussing Wilson and FDR the most of any other presidents or important figures) as well as the manner in which it is covered. States’ rights and capitalism are continually criticized and linked with inequality, while the federal government is seen as the champion of social justice from policies like the New Deal to the Great Society. While negative aspects of limited federal regulation are highlighted and even blamed for everything from the South’s belief in slavery to the Great Depression, the counterargument to big government is never discussed.
The revision to the Advanced Placement United States History course claims to promote “historical thinking skills,” but in reality it simply fosters indoctrination and historical inaccuracy. If David Coleman and the College Board were truly interested in “thinking skills” they would have designed a transparent course that presents the facts and allows students to draw their own conclusions. Instead the College Board has chosen to tell students what they must think about American history and to withhold some of the most important aspects of our nation’s history from the next set of leaders in this country.
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