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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.

Best,

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

Common Core Architect David Coleman’s Imperial College Board

What happens when a school board decides not to implement the new AP U.S. History standards wholesale and insist that such courses not present a distorted anti-American version of history?  Common Core is creeping into college, taking over the rightful role of professors, as I report at the Selous Foundation, in my article, “Common Core: K-16 Education.”  It’s also creeping in via the AP exams that give students college credit.  The College Board, which directs the AP coursework and exams, under the direction of its president David Coleman, “architect” of Common Core, is now using its muscle to usurp local boards of education.  The most recent example comes from the Denver area, in Jefferson County.

Several days ago, the teachers union, objecting to the school board’s decision to review the standards, manipulated high school students into staging a multi-day walkout.  While most newspapers simply reported that students objected to “censorship” or a biased “conservative” version of American history, Michelle Malkin reported the real story of teachers using the controversy to recruit students to protest for their own aims, keeping the leftist history standards and doing away with teacher evaluations.

The teacher union activists’ agitation has had its effect.  It’s chilling to the idea of local representative government. USA Today reports that the review of the standards has been shelved for a compromise proposal, which will now include administrators, students, and parents.

Flannery-OConnor 1947

Fannery-O’Connor 1947

 Dissident Prof reminds readers of Flannery O’Connor’s famous essay about allowing eight-graders to choose the literature they’d like to read, “Total Effect and the Eighth Grade,” wherein the wise woman reminds the adults, “Ours is the first age in history which has asked the child what he would tolerate learning. . .”

The Devil of Educationism: This is a problem of “Educationism,” a “devil” which can be “‘cast out only by prayer and fasting.'”  She notes that at one time children’s attention was held by Homer and Virgil, but “our children are too stupid now to enter the past imaginatively.”  What would she say now that school board members, parents, and teachers are asking students what they want to learn in history?  Back then, 50-some years ago, O’Connor posed, “No one asks the student if algebra pleases him or if he finds it satisfactory that some French verbs are irregular, but if he prefers Hersey to Hawthorne, his taste must prevail.”

The taste for takin’ it to the streets has prevailed, and it seems that protest, or mob action, has had the intended effect.

What also probably “helped” was the directive last Friday from the College Board, under the leadership of David Coleman.  It began:

The College Board’s Advanced Placement Program® supports the actions taken by students in Jefferson County, Colo., to protest a school board member’s request to censor aspects of the AP U.S. History course. The board member claims that some historical content in the course “encouraged or condoned civil disorder, social strife, or disregard for the law.”

Do these minors have the maturity and judgement to make decisions about protesting?  Well, if they agree with the College Board’s radical agenda, yes.  In fact, their lawlessness is cast as being the pinnacle of patriotism:

These students recognize that the social order can—and sometimes must—be disrupted in the pursuit of liberty and justice. Civil disorder and social strife are at the patriotic heart of American history—from the Boston Tea Party to the American Revolution to the Civil Rights Movement. And these events and ideas are essential within the study of a college-level AP U.S. History course.

Are “civil disorder and social strife” at “the patriotic heart of American history”?  Many would differ.  Many would take issue with aligning students skipping class with the brave men facing possible death in a war.  The opinions on civil disobedience are not unanimous.  But in the classroom, it is now taken as doctrine that mob protest, shouting, placard-carrying, and civil disobedience are the highest forms of civic action.  This is no accident.  Teachers and textbooks have been promoting this line for decades, and Common Core is accelerating this view, much of it through substituting group work and social justice activity for reading and writing.  So the students are right because they agree with the College Board’s view of history.  Did I mention that logic is also being shirked under the Common Core conglomerate?

Ignoring evidence and the historical record of its work, the College Board then presented an altered version of its own history:

The College Board will always listen to principled concerns based on evidence—and in fact has announced a public-review process for the AP U.S. History course framework. But in light of current events, an important policy reminder is in order:

Insisting that teachers and college faculty “collaborate” in designing the AP courses and exams, while allowing them “flexibility” to examine local topics, the College Board reminds those who resist the detailed 98-page directive,

To offer a course labeled “AP” or “Advanced Placement,” a school must agree to meet the expectations set for such courses by the more than 3,300 colleges and universities across the globe that use AP Exam scores for credit, placement, or consideration in the admission process.

The final boot comes down with a threat:

As vital context for the courageous voices of the students in Colorado, the AP community, our member institutions and the American people can rest assured: If a school or district censors essential concepts from an Advanced Placement course, that course can no longer bear the “AP” designation.”

The bold is in the original.  Perhaps a review of some texts from the Soviet Union might be in order in this curriculum in order to give students some perspective.  With video games, informational texts, such as EPA directives, and Common Core comic books replacing foundational works like the Federalist Papers, and, fiction, such as Animal Farm and 1984, students might be misled into believing that those who toe the line of a powerful agency, supported by millions of dollars of government funds, and federal diktats over “equal access” are really “courageous voices.”