Whose History?

Feb 24, 2015

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By Colleen Flaherty

American history is constantly debated not only by historians but by politicians. So it was largely unsurprising when some Republicans started to criticize the new Advanced Placement U.S. history framework last year for allegedly downplaying positive elements of America’s past. Many historians were caught off guard last week, however, when the criticism grew legs, at least in Oklahoma: a legislative committee there easily passed a bill declaring the new AP curriculum an “emergency” threatening the “public peace, health and safety,” to be defunded in the coming school year.

Facing a wave of criticism, the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Daniel Fisher, said late last week that he was reworking the bill the make it less “ambiguous,” and that he was in fact “very supportive of the AP program” in general. (The current version of his bill states that funding will not be revoked if the state reverts back to the prior framework and exam.) Another legislator said the rewritten bill will ask Oklahoma’s Board of Education to review the new curriculum, instead of cutting funding, The Oklahoman reported.

Although the debate has gone farthest in Oklahoma, policy makers in GeorgiaTexasSouth CarolinaNorth Carolina and Colorado also have expressed opposition to the new curriculum, according to The Washington Post.

The Oklahoma bill’s future is unclear, and some aren’t taking it too seriously. It served as comedic fodder for the Web site Funny or Die, for example, which published a parody of a new AP history exam featuring questions such as: “Women only began voting in the year 1920 because: a.) they just didn’t want to before then, it was weird; b.) a woman’s tiny hands couldn’t lift the heavy paper ballots of the time; c.) they were all too busy sewing flags; d.) all of the above.”

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3 comments on “Whose History?

  • This kind of thing is but one of the many reasons why I had to get out of Oklahoma. Sadly, dear friends, it is no longer an issue that is confined to a few states. Education is under assault on many fronts and in every subject. This tide must be resisted, so we each have a duty to arm ourselves with facts, with truth and well reasoned arguments so that we may confront this strain of aggressive ignorance.

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  • How is education under assault? Can you point to the examples where the new AP History framework is better than the one it replaces? Please be specific.

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  • Specifically, the curriculum is written by EXPERTS in American history rather than ideologically indoctrinated hacks afraid of children objectively learning about our history and possibly questioning what the brainwashed right-wing tells them.

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