Tag Archive for: Advanced Placement

Advanced Placement U.S. History a threat to America?

boardmembers14I received a copy of an email from Doug Lewis a concerned parent who lives in Collier County, Florida. After reading a column titled “College Board’s Reckless Spin on U.S. History” Doug decided to write the Collier County School Board about his concerns regarding Advanced Placement (AP) U.S. History courses given in the district.

Doug wrote:

Dear Board,

In view of state law, District policy and campaign pledges pertaining to support for the elimination of one-sided and biased curriculum, I respectfully request that you reach out to the fifty-five (55) distinguished scholars who published an open letter on June 2, 2015 protesting the one-sided and politicized curriculum framework introduced last year by the College Board to prepare high school students for the Advanced Placement Exam in U.S. history.

The scholars assert that the College Board’s framework exposes the teaching of American history to “a grave new risk.” It does this and worse…

If you confirm the findings of the fifty-five (55) distinguished scholars as referenced in the attached link, I respectfully request that the District take immediate action and discontinue all AP US History course offerings for the 2015-2016 school year and until such time as the curriculum framework complies with State US history standards, District policy and campaign pledges pertaining to the elimination of one-sided and biased curriculum.


Doug Lewis, parent

What concerns teachers, students, academics and parents alike is the replacing of U.S. history with “identity politics.” The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy defines identity politics as:

The laden phrase “identity politics” has come to signify a wide range of political activity and theorizing founded in the shared experiences of injustice of members of certain social groups. Rather than organizing solely around belief systems, programmatic manifestos, or party affiliation, identity political formations typically aim to secure the political freedom of a specific constituency marginalized within its larger context. Members of that constituency assert or reclaim ways of understanding their distinctiveness that challenge dominant oppressive characterizations, with the goal of greater self-determination.

Peter Berkowitz, from Real Clear Politics wrote:

Earlier this year Gordon Wood, a preeminent scholar of the American founding, took to the pages of The Weekly Standard—a noteworthy choice since so many of Wood’s non-academic essays have appeared [in] The New Republic and The New York Review of Books—to explain the decline of his discipline. His recent essay lamented that the rise of identity politics has all but blotted out traditional scholarship. “The inequalities of race and gender,” he wrote, “now permeate much of academic history-writing, so much so that the general reading public that wants to learn about the whole of our nation’s past has had to turn to history books written by non-academics who have no PhDs and are not involved in the incestuous conversations of the academic scholars.” [Emphasis added]

Identity politics is indoctrination and bias against the norm, elevating the abnormal, a certain race, political movement or creating tribes rather than promoting assimilation into the American ideals of freedom and liberty.

AP U.S. History can create an elite class that will become the future leaders unlike those who founded America such as: George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison and Benjamin Franklin. Rather AP U.S. History is creating a new class of future leaders in the mold of those who look at America not as a shining example but rather as a nation that must be fundamentally changed to meet the ideologies and causes of identity politics – the few versus the many.

If local school boards do not see what is happening, or see what is happening but do nothing to stop it, then traditional scholarship with disappear.

The future of America lies in the hands of our children, but will our children create a different America based on what they are taught rather than what actually happened?

Ayn Rand wrote a short nineteen page paper asking: What is the basic issue facing the world today? Rand, in her paper makes the case that, “The basic issue in the world today is between two principles: Individualism and Collectivism.” Rand defines these two principles as follows:

  • Individualism – Each man exists by his own right and for his own sake, not for the sake of the group.
  • Collectivism – Each man exists only by the permission of the group and for the sake of the group.

AP U.S. History is teaching collectivism, not individualism. It’s about promoting certain social groups at the expense of others. AP U.S. History is not educating our youth about the the unique belief system upon which America was created a Constitutional Republic which codifies the ideals of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for all.

If our elite youth are taught the wrong things then they will remember the wrong things not what is historically true. That is what has Doug and other parents so concerned.

RELATED ARTICLE: The drive to take ‘America’ out of U.S. history

Brainwashing Our Best and Brightest Against Our Own Country

In August, I received a disturbing note from a highly respected expert, Jane Robbins, of the American Principles Project.  It described an assault on our best and brightest high school students who are taking Advanced Placement U.S. History.  For most of the approximately 450,000 students, this will be their last exposure to American History.

college board ap logoThe College Board was responsible for this.  Under the new leadership of David Coleman, who has no actual experience in education other than being Arne Duncan’s college roommate and crafting the Common Core agenda and standards, the College Board has blossomed into the Trojan horse for the delivery of the propaganda of the left.

The College Board controls the Scholastic Aptitude Test, (SAT) the GED, and now, curricular materials of all types which is all now aligned to Common Core.  Most college bound students take the SAT and the GED is used to graduate from high school.

Where “choice” had been a successful key to tailoring education to the individual needs of students, the new buzz words are “Standards and Accountability.”  Religious schools, charter schools and even Home School students are channeled into Common Core if they wish to matriculate to other schools or college as the new College Board tests are now aligned to Common Core and are distinctly different than past tests.

“You get what you reward” is part of the justification for the drive for accountability.

Teachers and administrators are now paid on the students’ results on these tests, so teaching to the test predominates.  They are given scripted lessons which are “paced” so that all students are learning the same thing at the same time.  Teachers are rebuked for attending to slower learners, so they are simply left behind.  High achieving students can’t move ahead and become bored.  Cheating scandals have broken out everywhere as high stakes tests determine pay.

Testing companies put cut scores high to purposely fail students at high rates, as every time they test, those companies get paid handsomely.  By driving to electronic systems in schools, high tech companies eagerly joined to support common core.  They also get to share in the vast wealth of data collection.  Pearson PLC now dominates the market share in education with an approximate 80% share.  They have purchased most of America’s textbook and education delivery companies.  From the Wall Street Journal on line “Libya is Pearson’s fourth-biggest shareholder, according to LionShares. Pearson’s third biggest shareholder, with a 3.1% stake, is ABC Islamic Bank, a unit of the Bahrain-based Arab Banking Corp., which invests in accordance with Sharia law.”

Huffington Post in depth about Pearson:

Aside from money, there is another problem.  Parents, school districts and even States have lost their control over content which is being driven by the College Board and unaccountable DC lobbying groups who have copyrighted the standards.

Lee County is the 34th largest school district in the country.  The book that our district has chosen is “Out of Many”, the AP 6th Edition, by Pearson PLC.   Even the College Board says this about this book:

“Teachers considering the purchase of Out of Many should be aware that the book has become part of the textbook culture wars. Traditionalists who want democracy and free enterprise presented more favorably are bothered by what they see as left-leaning texts that pay too much attention to the dark side of American history. These individuals put Out of Many in this category. Consequently, Out of Many has come under scrutiny, especially where state boards of education have the power to select and reject texts for use in the public schools.

Out of Many‘s greatest weakness is the lack of a bibliography to direct teachers to materials beyond the text. There is also very little historiography, and the book would certainly benefit from something like the Brinkley text’s “When Historians Disagree” segments.”

Here are a few choice quotes from this book, ”Ronald Reagan, a charismatic figure who sometimes created his own past and seemed to believe in it…”

“George Washington was anything but a man of the people.”

“All Indian women controlled their own bodies, were free to determine the timing of reproduction, and were free to use secret herbs to prevent pregnancy, induce abortion, or ease the pains of childbirth.  All this was strikingly different from European patterns, in which the rule of men over women and fathers over households was thought to be the social ideal.”

There are absolutely no sources documents referenced anywhere in the over 1,200 pages.  It is one large opinion piece and it is from the far left.  Does this satisfy our Florida State statutory requirements for history?  I think not:

The 2014 Florida Statutes

Chapter 1003
View Entire Chapter
1003.42 Required instruction.

(a) The history and content of the Declaration of Independence, including national sovereignty, natural law, self-evident truth, equality of all persons, limited government, popular sovereignty, and inalienable rights of life, liberty, and property, and how they form the philosophical foundation of our government.

(b) The history, meaning, significance, and effect of the provisions of the Constitution of the United States and amendments thereto, with emphasis on each of the 10 amendments that make up the Bill of Rights and how the constitution provides the structure of our government.

(c) The arguments in support of adopting our republican form of government, as they are embodied in the most important of the Federalist Papers.

(d) Flag education, including proper flag display and flag salute.

(e) The elements of civil government, including the primary functions of and interrelationships between the Federal Government, the state, and its counties, municipalities, school districts, and special districts.

(f) The history of the United States, including the period of discovery, early colonies, the War for Independence, the Civil War, the expansion of the United States to its present boundaries, the world wars, and the civil rights movement to the present. American history shall be viewed as factual, not as constructed, shall be viewed as knowable, teachable, and testable, and shall be defined as the creation of a new nation based largely on the universal principles stated in the Declaration of Independence.

Upon reviewing the book, it is clear that the College Board has gone a “bridge too far” in promoting this course, which likely violates many other states statutes as well.  The question remains, how can we get this out of our schools?  How can we stop the blatant brainwashing of our best and brightest students?

The answer may lie in last year’s Florida legislation SB 864, which includes more local control, “requiring the district school board, rather than the commissioner, to conduct an independent investigation to determine the accuracy of district-adopted materials; authorizing the district school board, rather than the commissioner, to remove materials from the list of district-adopted materials…”

Parents of AP US History students, teachers and concerned citizens should bring this issue to the attention of their school boards across Florida and the nation to demand that this course be immediately halted and demand that the College Board substitute another instead which does comply with Florida law.  Notice should be sent to the parents of students now taking this course of the potential that this course may not comply with State Law.  Districts must challenge the state and the College Board for “boxing in” students who needed this course for college credits and demand solutions.  Taxpayers are the customers of the College Board and will not tolerate the blatant disregard for the laws of our state and the needs of our students.

We must stand for our past NOW, or face a new kind of future without American Heroes, without individual freedom and the rule of law.

AP History, Fake Indians, and Donate Buttons!


Russell Kirk: 10 Principles.

Dispatching from the Alexander Hamilton Institute, where Professor Robert Paquette outdoes himself in a post titled “The New Discrimination on U.S. Campuses” at SeeThruEd.  It’s discrimination against intended beneficiaries of affirmative action, illustrated by the fake Indians Ward Church and Elizabeth Warren, former Harvard law professor, now senator from Massachusetts. Warren has issued Eleven Commandments of Progressivisim:

During her ascent, [Senator Elizabeth] Warren, no Sitting Bull, has paused to fire up the faithful by issuing from barked scrolls what some of her fans in the media have called the “eleven commandments” of progressivism (note “commandments,” not principles). Since many Americans wonder why the country is floundering at best and unraveling at worst, Warren’s eleven commandments might be usefully contrasted with a set of conservative precepts to suggest why the United States has entered a period reminiscent of the 1850s, when domestically a sectional political struggle was metamorphosing into a clash of civilizations and eventually civil war.

Professor Paquette then contrasts these commandments to the ten principles of conservatism articulated by the late Russell Kirk, but not before reminding readers about the one-drop rule and how it is being perversely exploited by opportunistic professors on the left:

In certain areas of the Jim-Crow South, for example, no matter how light a person’s phenotype, if his or her genealogy contained an identifiable African ancestor somewhere in the past, then the category “black” was applied for various discriminatory social and legal purposes.  Within the arcane, darkened corridors of the postmodern campus, however, a strain of institutionalized discrimination has emerged under pressure from the diversity cartel that is not debilitating but consciously elevating. It might be called the no-drop rule.

Today, progressives “Opportunistic whites, openly of a radical bent or pose, take advantage of affirmative action criteria to attain jobs as aggrieved minorities for the dual purpose of advancing themselves and the progressive beliefs that they purport to hold dear.”  Such is the case with the former Harvard law professor, now Senator Elizabeth Warren, who thinks she has established her bona fides enough to issue from “barked scrolls” her Eleven Commandments, which are contrasted to Russell Kirk’s principles here.  The appointment of professors based on faked anceestry might be worthy of campus protests.

Smoke and Mirrors in the New AP History Exam

Don't ask how/ it's magic

Don’t ask how/ it’s magic.

Don’t ask how/ it’s magic Speaking of history, specifically, AP history, non-historian, non-teacher-ever, English major David Coleman who now is president of the College Board which develops AP and SAT tests, has issued a letter in response to the demands of the little people, er, those who signed an open letter or who were on the National Republican Committee, and who have dared to question the content of the new AP exams.

According to Inside Higher Ed, Coleman in an open letter:

said he hoped the unprecedented move of releasing an exam to non-certified A.P. teachers would quell concerns that framework neglected or misrepresented the important parts of American history.

Some of the “non-certified” critics of the exam had originally questioned the 98 pages of directives that replaced the 5-page topical outline. Like Common Core, the AP standards supplant local and state curricula, as Jane Robbins and Larry Krieger wrote in their critique. (and here by National Association of Scholars President Peter Wood)

In response to the sample test, Joy Pullman said that Coleman’s “graciously worded letter, still leaves unanswered questions about what half a million of nation’s brightest high school students will learn about their country’s character and history each year.

The sample exam had been released to the certified evaluators who had also signed “confidentiality letters.”  You can read the practice exam for yourself.  The number of questions has been reduced from 80 to 55 in order to permit more focus on “historical thinking skills.” These “historical thinking skills” seem to involve pictures and photographs and open-ended questions about short reading passages, ala Common Core.  Cutting back the number of multiple choice questions and asking students to interpret and write about photos that display negative aspects of American history seems to be a means to testing for correct progressive views under the guise of “deeper learning.”  All this is notwithstanding Coleman’s repeated claims to improving rigor through “original documents.”

All of this discussion of “original documents” is smoke and mirrors, an opportunity to impose selective passages on youngsters who will know little history outside of the progressive perspective issued in the nearly 100 pages of AP guidelines.

Jim Galloway, political columnist at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, however, doesn’t address anything in the guidelines specifically, but calls the controversy over the new AP standards and exams a “sequel to the fight over Common Core.”  Galloway does not bother to break down the standards or to address any of the detailed arguments made by opponents. Instead he impishly relies on Republican State School Superintendent John Barge’s charge that ideological motives might be behind Georgia Concerned Women for America’s opposition to the new AP standards, as well as some nefarious money-making motives because, get this, the website has a donate button!

Galloway quotes one-time Common Core opponent Barge:

“I’m going to be very honest and very blunt about what I think is behind this. And I think it’s money”. . .

He described a visit to the website of Concerned Women for America:

“The first thing that comes up is a bright red ‘donate now’ button,” he said. (We tried it. The red button is there at the top, but it didn’t jump to the front.)

In a similar display of lazy reporting and innuendo, Maureen Downey’s column, “Running for cover over Common Core,” about current hearings on Common Core is a cut-and-paste rehash of previous attacks and the talking points distributed in 34-page messaging “tool kit” from the public relations department of one of the major agencies behind Common Core, the CCSSO.  One would expect more from an education editor and former teacher than this:

Extremists in the Republican Party contend Common Core is Obamacare transferred from doctors’ waiting rooms to America’s classrooms, dressed in sensible shoes and a cardigan and carrying a pointer.

I’m still waiting for this education expert to point to specific parts of the Common Core that are superior to the previous Georgia Standards.  I would like the “evidentiary standards” that proponents claim are being demanded of students under the new AP and Common Core guidelines.

The New Advance Placement U.S. History Exam: Providing Opportunities for Indoctrination

College Board dictates for the new Advanced Placement U.S. History exam have already garnered criticism. Jane Robbins and Larry Krieger charged that the new course of study “inculcates a consistently negative view of the nation’s past.” Units on colonial America stress “the development of a ‘rigid racial hierarchy’ and a ‘strong belief in British racial and cultural superiority.’” At the same time, the new Framework “ignores the United States’ founding principles and their influence in inspiring the spread of democracy and galvanizing the movement to abolish slavery.”

Advanced Placement (AP) teachers, of course, will need retraining for this; accordingly, Summer Institutes are being held across the country. I got a look at how teachers are pitched the new program at a session titled “Boundaries of Freedom: Teaching the Construction of Race and Slavery in the AP U.S. History Course” at the annual meeting of the Organization of American Historians (OAH), “the largest professional society dedicated to the teaching and study of American history,” in Atlanta this month. Identity politics and the assumption that conservatism is evil and backwards infused the conference. The AP session fit right into this year’s theme, “Crossing Borders,” highlighting the evils of the United States, in its past with slavery and segregation, and in its present in regards to “immigrants” (illegal aliens).

One of the AP panelists, Lawrence Charap, of the College Board, said that although there was no direct “coordination,” Common Core’s approach is being implemented in the AP and SAT exams by his boss, David Coleman, Common Core’s  architect and the new president of the College Board, which produces the AP and SAT exams. The new approach includes using the scholarly papers that one would find at this conference.

No More Facts, Ma’am

He told  high school teachers the new exams eliminate unnecessary memorization of facts and replace them with “historical thinking skills.” As examples of such irrelevant “facts,” Charap referred to Millard Fillmore and the Lend-Lease program.

The revisions to the exam began in 2006, at the request of college professors who said AP history tried to jam a college survey course, “a mile wide and an inch deep,” into a high school class, according to Charap. So the course has been redesigned to focus on skills, where students go in-depth and ask questions in an engaging way—traits AP shares with Common Core and the SAT. Accordingly, multiple-choice questions count for less of the score and have been reduced from 80 to 55, which Charap would like to reduce even further.

So what will replace facts about the thirteenth president or a controversial wartime program? Students will be tested for “skills,” in relating secondary (scholarly) sources back to the primary (historical) sources.

Dramatic Re-enactments

Such an exercise may sound good. But as I found out, it is a means by which teachers can impose their ideological views on students who do not yet have a foundation in history. The exercises showed that historically significant facts would be replaced with emotional exercises focused disproportionately on negative parts of American history. Two members of the AP development committee, UC-Irvine professor Jessica Millward and high school teacher James Sabathne, demonstrated how.

Millward said she brings her research on female slaves and their children in the Chesapeake Bay area of Maryland into the classroom. She claimed her students use “critical thinking skills” and focus on concepts, like “freedom” and “bondage.” Millward also recognizes students don’t do the assigned reading, so she breaks them into groups and has them read assignments on the spot. The exercises include a visual timeline and scenarios in which students imagine a way to “resist and rebel” against, for example, the whipping of a six-month pregnant slave face down, her belly in a hole (to protect the future “property”). Millward then play-acts the slave owner. She praised the new “interactive exam” for allowing the freedom to recreate such experiences. She offered a list of online resources, such as the University of North Carolina’s Documenting the American South, the African American Mosaic, and Depression-era Works Progress Administration interviews at the Library of Congress, as well as secondary sources, including her article, “‘That All Her Increase Shall Be Free’: Enslaved Women’s Bodies and the 1809 Maryland Law of Manumission” in Women’s History Review. No one can deny her contention that slavery involves “heartbreak,” but she seems intent on exploiting it.

After one teacher in the audience noted that the U.S.’s share of slave trade was only 5 percent, the panelists suggested that that fact and the one that some blacks owned slaves should be downplayed to students. Clearly, the aim is to give high school students a limited, emotional perspective of white-on-black racism, instead of the larger historical one.

Racist White People

The next panelist, James Sabanthe, who teaches at Hononegah High School in Rockton, Illinois, heralded the new focus on “historical interpretations.” It became apparent from his, Millward’s and other teachers’ comments that although high school students are treated as adults who “think like historians,” they do not do the reading that real historians do. Because students do not read all 20 to 30 pages of a typical scholarly article, Sabanthe distributes excerpts among groups of students. As an example of an exercise, students would be asked to use their “historical thinking skills” to demonstrate change while comparing revolutions in France, Russia, and China, a conversation launched by asking students about prior knowledge of labor systems, Indians, servants, and racism.

For the unit on slavery, Sabanthe provided hand-outs, with sample readings. Half of his groups would tackle excerpts from Edmund S. Morgan’s “Slavery and Freedom: The American Paradox,” in The Journal of American History (June 1972), and Kathleen M. Brown’s Good Wives, Nasty Wenches, & Anxious Patriarchs: Gender, Race, and Power in Colonial Virginia (1996). The other half would read excerpts from Many Thousands Gone: The First Two Centuries of Slavery in North America (1998) by Ira Berlin, former president of OAHand How Race Survived US History: From Settlement and Slavery to the Obama Phenomenon (2008) by David Roediger, who writes from a Marxist perspective. These groups would make “t charts” and Venn diagrams, and discuss similarities and differences between the excerpts.

But upon reading Sabanthe’s hand-out, it became clear the excerpts do not stand alone. Sometime surnames pop up, with prior references obviously in an omitted section. His assignment, to annotate the primary document, “’Decisions of the General Court’ regarding William Pierce’s Plantation, Virginia, 1640,” and relate it to Brown’s feminist tract, is bewildering. Students would need considerable direction. Instead of the full narrative of a textbook, history book, or full article that they could digest for themselves, students turn to their teacher for direction. Of course, this leaves wide open opportunities.

Trauma—From Whom?

This activity, according to the hand-out, fulfilled AP U.S. History Curriculum Framework, 2014, “Key Concepts,” pages 35-39, which focused on the especially racist qualities of the British system, for example: “Unlike Spanish, French, and Dutch colonies, which accepted intermarriage and cross-racial sexual unions with native peoples . . . , English colonies attracted both males and females who rarely intermarried with either native peoples or Africans, leading to the development of a rigid racial hierarchy” and “Reinforced by a strong belief in British racial and cultural superiority, the British system enslaved black people in perpetuity, altered African gender and kinship relationships in the colonies…”

With all the attention on abuses of slavery, it’s no wonder that one of the teachers, who teaches in an Orthodox Jewish school, wondered how she should handle the only black student in her class. In response, Millward acknowledged that these topics bring up anger and white guilt. “I believe in educational affirmative action,” she said and suggested removing the black student from the class discussion to avoid “trauma.”

Quite obviously, the “trauma” is a problem of the teachers’ own making—now to be reinforced by the College Board.

The new AP exams, like Common Core, presumably are inspired by what “engages” students. From what I heard at this and other panels, the revisions come from what engages, and profits, teachers developing the exams.

Although Sabathne said he is getting away from textbooks, he also said he has been working with Charap and publishers on new AP-aligned history books and guides. Sabathne encouraged teachers to sign up for his upcoming week-long AP session in St. Petersburg. The huge publisher Bedford-St. Martins has been working with the College Board on new books and was a “platinum” (highest level) sponsor of the conference. Norton Publishing (silver sponsor) is also coming out with new books. Charap optimistically said that in three years there should be a good bank of materials to prepare students for the new AP exam.

No doubt there will be, at the expense of taxpayers who subsidize the indoctrination.

Image by MC Quinn.