Robert George Joins 55 Scholars in Denouncing New AP U.S. History Framework

Princeton University Professor Robert George
Princeton University Professor Robert George

Princeton University professor and APIA founder Robert George was among 55 scholar signatories on a letter released Tuesday expressing strong opposition to the College Board’s new AP U.S. History framework.  Addressing an issue first brought to the public’s attention last year by the American Principles Project and retired APUSH teacher Larry Krieger, the letter decried the framework’s imposition of “an arid, fragmentary, and misleading account of American history” on APUSH students nationwide.

Among the criticisms leveled by the scholars was the observation that the new framework replaces the earlier less detailed, content-centered outline with a lengthy politically and ideologically biased document which “promotes a particular interpretation of American history”:

The new framework scrubs away all traces of what used to be the chief glory of historical writing—vivid and compelling narrative—and reduces history to an bloodless interplay of abstract and impersonal forces. Gone is the idea that history should provide a fund of compelling stories about exemplary people and events. No longer will students hear about America as a dynamic and exemplary nation, flawed in many respects, but whose citizens have striven through the years toward the more perfect realization of its professed ideals. The new version of the test will effectively marginalize important ways of teaching about the American past, and force American high schools to teach U.S. history from a perspective that self consciously seeks to de-center American history and subordinate it to a global and heavily social-scientific perspective.

These changes expose, as the letter points out, the dangers inherent in the monopoly which the College Board now enjoys over advanced placement testing.  As a result, “[l]ocal, state, and federal policymakers may need to explore competitive alternatives to the College Board’s current domination of advanced-placement testing.”

When asked for his comments on the framework, APIA’s education director (and regular contributor to The Pulse) Emmett McGroarty also expressed serious concerns:

The College Board’s new AP US History Framework distorts American history.  It degrades the driving effect that our Founding principles have had and, in the process, denigrates our political, social, and military heroes.  The College Board’s effective monopoly, encouraged in large part by state and federal programs, enables such distortions to be pushed into our schools.

With the Common Core controversy increasingly drawing attention to the perils of centralized control over education policy, will the new AP U.S. History framework be the next education issue to make a significant mark on the 2016 race?  Only time will tell.

Paul Dupont is a legislative assistant for American Principles in Action.