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The National Association of Scholars (NAS), which has done valuable work on the College Board’s attempt to impose a leftist national U.S. history curriculum through its Advanced Placement (AP) U.S. History course (APUSH), has kept its eye on the ball. NAS just released a new report on another new AP course – this time AP European History (APEH). If we thought the College Board had repented of its leftist sins and returned to traditional, unbiased history instruction, we should have known better.
The College Board issued its highly revisionist APUSH framework in 2014. That framework presented American history as a dark, depressing story of conflict and oppression. After months of protests by scholars, state legislators and education officials, and parents, the College Board finally withdrew the APUSH framework and replaced it with one less overtly biased (although some commentators noted that problems remained, including retention of the slanted textbooks and teacher training).
But the College Board assured the concerned stakeholders that all was now well, and that they needn’t spend any more time scrutinizing the AP program or, worse, looking for an alternative.
But the leopard’s spots remained unchanged. As related in withering detail by David Randall of NAS in his report entitled The Disappearing Continent, European history has now undergone the same type of leftist revisionism previously applied to U.S. history.
Among Randall’s findings is that the new APEH framework not only downplays the influence of religion in European history but “presents religion throughout as an instrument of power rather than as an autonomous sphere of European history.” APEH students will learn nothing about medieval Christianity or the tenets of the Reformation.
The New York Times ran a great piece today chronicling the grassroots movement against the new, politically slanted A.P U.S. History framework and cited the involvement of the American Principles Project and The Pulse 2016 contributor Jane Robbins from the very beginning of the fight.
The NYT‘s Cecilia Capuzzi Simon wrote:
Larry Krieger, a retired A.P. teacher in U.S. history and now an exam coach and textbook author (many on how to ace A.P. exams), led the charge against the 2014 framework with a single-spaced 18-page critique. “It was poorly written, poorly organized and poorly balanced,” Mr. Krieger says. Jane Robbins, a senior fellow at the American Principles Project, picked up on his ideas, arguing that the framework had been “scrubbed of American exceptionalism.”
“What we saw was a progressive outlook,” Ms. Robbins says. “It was a non-American, globalist perspective on a lot of issues. We were one country among many, and not a very good one at that. It was a depressing, slanted view of American history.”
Mr. Krieger and Ms. Robbins took their message around the country, persuading legislators in Texas, Georgia, Oklahoma and other states to try to change the course narrative or prohibit schools from teaching it. They even got the attention of the Republican National Committee, which demanded that the framework be delayed and rewritten, and that Congress withhold funding from the College Board.
This piece was co-authored with APIA senior fellow Jane Robbins in The Daily Caller:
When teachers and scholars began to speak out against its 2014 Advanced Placement U. S. History (APUSH) Framework, the College Board initially dismissed the critics as extremists unworthy of attention. The response changed somewhat when the Texas State Board of Education challenged the curriculum’s leftist tenor.
Texas’s status as a major supplier of lucrative AP students prompted the College Board to move into Phase Two of its defense, hiring high-powered lobbying firms to persuade critics that the Framework didn’t say what it said. Phase Three – agreeing to consider the objections and revise the Framework – didn’t happen until the College Board learned of serious discussions to create competition to its near-monopoly on advanced placement courses.
So now, only a week or so before many APUSH teachers and students head back to school, the College Board released its “updated” Framework. Problem solved? Not quite.
To be sure, the College Board has now excised the most egregious statements in the Framework (for example, the claim that Manifest Destiny was about “racial and cultural superiority” and that the Cold War ended only when Ronald Reagan ceased his “bellicose” behavior and made friends with Gorbachev). It has also toned down the suffocating emphasis on identity-group conflict and the leftist trinity of race, gender, and class as the lens through which all of American history must be viewed.
To address the absence of important individuals, events, and concepts, the College Board has now plugged in a mention of some of the most glaring omissions.
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. Continue Reading