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 Georgia, Texas, South Carolina, North 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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