Critics of Common Core turn attention to AP U.S. History

A handful of Georgians are concerned about what’s being taught in Advanced Placement U.S. History.

I have a simple solution. Don’t have your child or grandchild take the accelerated class.

emoryartAP classes are extras. Local systems do not control the content as AP courses are created by the College Board. The College Board also produces the AP exam given at the end of the course to ascertain whether a student knows the material well enough to earn college credit.

Georgia has pushed high school students to take more AP classes because colleges look upon them favorably.

Now, according to AJC education reporter Eric Stirgus, some folks are showing up at Gwinnett County school board meetings to complain the AP U.S. History course excludes D-Day and the Battle of Bunker Hill and promotes “anti-America” themes.

Here is an excerpt of the AJC news story:

The complaints are the latest manifestation of a debate that began last summer when the College Board unveiled some changes to the AP U.S. history course framework. The AP course is an elective designed by the College Board, which also administers the SAT college-entrance exam.

The Republican National Committee passed a resolution in August asking the College Board to delay the framework for a year, branding it “a radically revisionist view of American history that emphasizes negative aspects of our nation’s history while omitting or minimizing positive aspects.” A Colorado school board’s reaction against the course prompted widespread protest and a student walkout; the Texas board of education went on record against allowing the new curriculum framework; and legislators and activists in South Carolina and Tennessee are discussing similar moves.

The critics want Gwinnett to return to the old framework and exam this year. They plan to reiterate their concerns at Gwinnett’s school board meeting today. “Don’t mess with our history, and don’t mess with our kids’ views of America, its greatness and its heroes,” one Gwinnett resident, Judy Craft, said in an email to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Gwinnett officials say they don’t plan any changes to the coursework. They acknowledge the course doesn’t identify some historical figures, but say those people are mentioned in class. One classroom where the course is taught has laminated information about King, a cardboard cutout of former President Ronald Reagan and copies of documents like the U.S. Constitution.

To date, there’s been little public resistance to the course in other metro school districts, but many Georgia conservatives worry that social studies and history courses are being taught with a liberal bias or espouse a negative view of America.

Craft and her husband, Ken, said they became troubled by AP materials and other English/language arts textbooks Gwinnett may use when the district put them on display last fall. The Crafts have two grandchildren in the Gwinnett district and have been vocal opponents of implementing the Common Core education standards in Georgia. The Crafts and others said the school district or the state should have some oversight of the AP framework.

Gwinnett school board chairman Daniel Seckinger said he agrees with much of what the critics say. Seckinger, like other Gwinnett officials, noted the course is an elective and the district does not include materials that are not part of Gwinnett’s Academic Knowledge and Skills standards. The board chairman said he would be open to including a statement preceding the AP history course that says there are elements in the course materials some may find objectionable and aren’t pro-American.”

The story prompted this response from a Gwinnett student:

I am an 11th grade student now enrolled in the AP U.S. History course that was the subject of the AJC story  titled, “U.S. history battle flares in classrooms.”

The article says the course focuses on negative American history, creating students who are not “pro-American.”

As someone who is directly affected by this class every day, I must say that statement is false. Students in Gwinnett County are taught about the positive effects the United States has had on the world since we are in elementary school.

Although it is necessary to have a positive connotation of our country, not everything is black and white, so it is important to know about the mistakes we as a country have made in the past, as to not repeat them. The AP U.S. History course provides a good mix of our country’s triumphs and disappointments, drawing information from many different historians and primary sources.

In addition, you quote a former teacher, Marc Urbach, on the course and the information he says it leaves out. Due to the fact the course was changed two years after Urbach finished teaching it, I do not believe his opinion on the current course is relevant; he even says we do not cover George Washington’s farewell address from politics. This is false as we have studied that speech on multiple occasions.

I understand the issue some people may have with teaching of the wrongdoings of America, especially in this day and age.  However, the critics only see the topics we have to cover and not the detail and depth with which these ideas are studied within the classroom.

The College Board is holding firm on its AP U.S. History course, issuing a statement that said in part:

The redesigned AP U.S. History course and exam have the highest support of the history profession, with strong endorsements from the American Historical Association, the Organization of American Historians, the National Council for Social Studies, and the National Council for History Education. As important, the redesigned AP U.S. History course has received overwhelming support from AP teachers nationwide, and is currently in use in classrooms across the country.

The College Board has the greatest confidence that AP U.S. History teachers understand how to reflect state and local requirements and the great story of America in their instruction.

In the face of these attacks on our long-standing and highly respected approach to developing college-level courses, AP teachers and students, our member institutions, and the American people can rest assured: The College Board will not compromise the integrity of the Advanced Placement Program.

 

 

Reader Comments 0

57 comments
northernneighbor
northernneighbor

My best advice is get to know the teachers at your school, as any good parent should.  Get to know the principal and your school board representative.  You can get real answers instead of listening to radio talking points.

Since we are in Georgia, the huge majority of our teachers are both conservative and Christian; and they care about their students.  That is simply the population pool we draw from.

If you have a good teacher, you will have a good AP US History course regardless of what comes out of New Jersey.

duke14
duke14

A students does not know what he does not know. How can he know if he has a balanced view of American history, since all he knows is what he has been taught. Progressive educators are very good at rhetoric which emphasizes that their presentation is balanced, and this student is merely repeating that rhetoric. In these courses you will find no hint of the fact that America presents an example to the world, showing how a nation founded on the Christian religion can have liberty without anarchy, and law without tyranny. We can do that because both the people and their governors are subject to the law of God as expressed in the scripture. No society has ever come close to maintaining liberty on any other basis, and none ever will. Despite all the rhetoric about the rights of the people, socialism always ends in dictatorship, because that is the only way to maintain order among godless men. All our American founders understood that view, and subscribed to it. I challenge you to find in this curriculum any mention of the many documents associated with our founding which affirm that principle. Read George Washington's Farewell Address, for example.

Quidocetdiscit
Quidocetdiscit

@duke14


"No society has ever come close to maintaining liberty on any other basis, and none ever will."


That is quite a claim.  What about the Greek democracy, or the parliament of Iceland started by the Vikings? There are Native American tribes that practiced a democratic form of governance for hundreds of years.  


Our "society" is still relatively young, and one could argue that for much of its history certain factions did not have "liberty".

Falcaints
Falcaints

@duke14 Yeah all those deists were really concerned about the "law of God"

Lee_CPA2
Lee_CPA2

Well good.  Parents SHOULD be reading the textbooks and paying attention to the assignments that are promulgated by the educational industrial complex. Most history textbooks today read more like politically correct propaganda than history.

But, it does make for entertaining video clips when Jimmy Kimmel puts a camera crew on the street to ask "Who's buried in Grant's tomb" or "Who won WW3?"

1abbeyroad
1abbeyroad

"I have a simple solution. Don’t have your child or grandchild take the accelerated class."-- that's not a "simple solution"-- that's a "flip response.' 

Astropig
Astropig

@1abbeyroad


Good point. If one poster had said that to another poster on here of the opposite viewpoint, the Oompa Loompas would go nuts.

bu2
bu2

Where are all these critics on the current Georgia history standards and curriculum?


The elementary history texts teach environmental dogma, that the buffalo were virtually wiped out because of loss of habitat.

It teaches racial dogma, emphasizing discrimination in the American West against Hispanics, Chinese and African-Americans, spending about as much time as it does on other history.


It claims Texans wanted independence from Mexico because of their policy against slavery and doesn't mention the requirement to change their religion to Roman Catholic, imprisonment of leaders merely for presenting petitions, moving of the capitol 500 miles away or the shredding of the Mexican constitution by a dictator who was brutally murdering his citizens.


Strangely, it doesn't talk about the real truth about the buffalo, that were deliberately hunted to near extinction by government policy to starve the American Indians.


I guess American Indians don't get the benefit of political correctness.  Not enough voters.

OriginalProf
OriginalProf

@bu2 

I'd hope that this state's history re. American Indians includes correct information about the state's attempts to take Indian lands in North Georgia when it was discovered their lands had gold. Do you mean to say that this Isn't included?

dcdcdc
dcdcdc

Of course, if it taught about MLK's "indiscretions", Maureen would be leading charge to have it changed (as would I - because I want people to remember him as a truly great man).  Funny how easy it is to take shots at other peoples concerns, as long as your POV is supported by current content.


Rather than saying "give them a hearing to see if they have a legit concern", she ridicules them.  Such hypocrisy, and great way to use your pulpit to bully people into submission.

Astropig
Astropig

@dcdcdc


A good point that deserves amplification. There are lots of versions of "history" in academia that are written by cranks, conspiracists and people with one axe or another to grind.Sometimes the shading is overt and sometimes very,very subtle.As you point out, a POV from a black (or Hispanic or whatever) will read very differently than one written by a "white" author or authors.Sometime,what is thought of as "history" cannot be agreed on even by people of good will,looking at the same set of facts. In our own day, we have seen the rise of myths and legends that find their way into mainstream history,not because they are plausible,but because they are durable. (FDR knew about Pearl Harbor, JFK was killed by his own government,9/11 was an inside job to name a few.) So it's perfectly rational to take a hard look at what constitutes mainstream history from time to time,just to make sure that we've got it right.

Looking4truth
Looking4truth

If you examine the APUSH curriculum since the 1990s, you'd see it is more Common Core than anything proposed so far under CCSS.  Reading and writing about history, using documents as evidence, etc.  These have been around APUSH for a long time.

Nidal Ibrahim
Nidal Ibrahim

Be very, very careful of anyone or any entity that claims it wants to teach the "good" of American history. While our nation has much to be proud of, it also has some to be ashamed of...and both should be clearly in the curriculum. Very often, the good folks pushing to "improve" our curriculum usually have a very narrow political agenda in mind....one that more often than not does a disservice to our kids.

TaxiSmith
TaxiSmith

Yeah, that's a good solution. Don't worry about it!!!  Idiot.

popacorn
popacorn

Wonder what the spin on Georgia and slavery will be in the latest version. 

dg417s
dg417s

Also, all students taking US HIstory - regular or APUSH - must take the Georgia Milestones EOC test which is based on the Georgia Performance Standards and not the College Board standards for APUSH.

BearCasey
BearCasey

@dg417s  I retired in '06 so maybe things have changed but in my day the state test was laughably easy for kids who had completed AP US history.  I think the lowest grade on the EOC I EVER SAW WAS 92%.


dg417s
dg417s

@BearCasey @dg417s Well, usually the kids who will have the desire to take APUSH would probably do well on the US EOC regardless of what level of USH they took.... but was that a true 92 or a 70 curved to 92?

dg417s
dg417s

"The critics want Gwinnett to return to the old framework and exam this year."  Ummmm, one question for the "critics."  Where do they expect Gwinnett to obtain the old exam?  The AP program is managed by College Board - it is their course, their test.  Having taught an AP course myself, I know that unless College Board approves my syllabus, the students' transcripts cannot have "AP" in the course name.  If the "critics" don't want their children learning this viewpoint of American history, then they should withdraw their children from the course.  All AP course descriptions are online for easy viewing.

liberal4life
liberal4life

Well, Mr. Wood thinks we should have Georgia's own social studies standards, right?  Schools can offer an Honors/Advanced Georgia created US history for those who want it (well actually for kids whose parents want them to take that version of history).

living-in-outdated-ed
living-in-outdated-ed

I find this Common Core Critics to be extremely ignorant and misguided.  Clearly, they want to rewrite our history.  For them to truly believe the AP course is anti-American is simply ridiculous. I don't even know where to start here.  Even our politicians are ignorant.  There are some figures such s Reagan that it is too soon to really tell what their impact on history will be.  Stop trying to rewrite our history.     The far right risks undermining the fabric of our republic.

BearCasey
BearCasey

@living-in-outdated-ed  All history is CONSTANTLY being re-written as new information becomes available.  A good history course offers many different views of events.  The intellectual marketplace then decides.  What you are talking about is INDOCTRINATION.  I taught A.P. American history 1981-2006.  It is a WONDERFUL program.

ATLBorn_Raised
ATLBorn_Raised

“Don’t mess with our history, and don’t mess with our kids’ views of America, its greatness and its heroes,” one Gwinnett resident, Judy Craft, said in an email to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.


This is such a terrible way of thinking. God forbid our students learn anything but the white-washed, jingoistic, history is written by the victors crap schools have been spewing for decades. Newsflash, America is not THE GREATEST NATION EVAR!!!! There are great moments in our history and there are moments we should be deeply ashamed of as a nation. All of these things are important to learn as history shapes our futures. If we can't learn from our past mistakes how can we move forward as a people?


As for the grandparents' arguments that the course removes critical players such as MLK, well, shouldn't 11th graders know who MLK is by now? Maybe they need to learn about other figures who have been swept under the rug over the centuries but who played just as vital roles in shaping what our country is today.


At the end of the day, this course is OPTIONAL. And learning should never end with the last bell of the school day. If these parents and grandparents are so concerned their children are missing out on vital information, they have the means to supplement their children's education. Take them to a museum, take them to a library. Your children are your charge at the end of the day.

HIbought theRefs
HIbought theRefs

I find it laughable that Gwinnett, with it's county-wide charter and AKS curriculum, even stoops to allow AP courses in the high schools.  Gwinnett claims to know best what its students need to succeed.  


And if Gwinnett is allowing AP courses, and in particular APUSH, in the schools, then there is tacit agreement that AP courses provide something that the charter curriculum does not.  OR - and this is more likely - the administration recognizes to NOT offer APUSH would cause a far greater outcry from parents.  Given that a 4 or 5 on this exam helps students either gain a college credit (and thus reduce college tuition costs) or gives them advanced standing in college (allowing them to take a higher level course as a freshman, for example), you know parents would be all over Alvin and his crew if they bow to a few Common-Core critics.  

Does it teach anti-Americanism? I think unlikely. Does it teach that America has had failures? Sure.  And that's a balanced view, leading to constructive debate.  And isn't that what we want - students who are prepared to examine ideas and form opinions?  

This is just a Common Core opponent's stalking horse, IMHO.

EdUktr
EdUktr

We all see constant examples of how America's critics are able to twist the truth to fit the leftist agenda. Unfortunately, the social studies and history departments of educational institutions are magnets to such people.

As is the media in general and this newspaper in particular.

Astropig
Astropig

This is about AP history.The connection to Common Core is tenuous at best. A more accurate headline would have been Two Critics Of Common Core Turn Their Attention To AP History. This looks like an attempt to paint all critics of CC with the same broad brush and make them look like extremists.

MaureenDowney
MaureenDowney moderator

@Astropig It is more than two critics. I attended the final meeting of House/Senate meeting on Common Core revisions  in late fall. One of the House members spoke about how he felt lawmakers should take a look at AP US History this session. 

Menace
Menace

Who would have thought it - a 16 year old has more brains than Grandpa and Grandma.

87GaDawg
87GaDawg

@Menace


Doesn't every 16 year old think that way??  I know my parent's were the most uncool and idiotic people alive - until I became a parent myself.  Then they seemed a little brighter.

87GaDawg
87GaDawg

"A handful of Georgians are concerned about what’s being taught in Advanced Placement U.S. History.

I have a simple solution. Don’t have your child or grandchild take the accelerated class."


Kind of funny to hear a liberal say to not be offended, sit down and shut up.  So, the solution is to leave the schools/administrators alone and make sure your kids don't take advanced classes.  Interesting.

scrappy-22
scrappy-22

@87GaDawg

You seemed to have missed the part that says the schools/administrators don't set the standards for these classes anyway. 

Would be quite a sad day as a parent if you refused to let your kid take an AP class, because you thought some content was 'un-American', don't you think?   Although, if the kid is the one fighting you to take said class, then at least you have raised a brighter person than you yourself. 

Astropig
Astropig

@87GaDawg


"So, the solution is to leave the schools/administrators alone and make sure your kids don't take advanced classes.  Interesting."


Yeah, I caught that,too. We've arrived in interesting times when the local education columnist advises parents to harm their kids futures because she doesn't like their grandparents politics.



Astropig
Astropig

@scrappy-22 @Astropig @87GaDawg 

There's no "moral" here. Common Core will be debated fiercely in Georgia and other states over the next little bit.Our legislature and state school superintendent have expressed great interest in its application and efficacy in our schools.By painting Common Core dissenters as extremists,the hope is that public opinion can be shaped to force CC into the fabric of our school curricula.

87GaDawg
87GaDawg

@scrappy-22


"Parents & Grandparents, and their politics, should stay out of the way of their child / grandchild's future academic success."


Um, aren't we always hearing that the reason for a child's success IS parent involvement?  I really believe most teachers do the best they can.  I have more problems with the agenda set by politicians and its influence on the schools.  I get tired of my children studying some obscure point of history and basically ignoring some of the major events.  Mine are middle school age.  My 6th grader brought home a book proclaiming the virtues of Stalin.  She had no idea of all the people he had murdered.

scrappy-22
scrappy-22

@87GaDawg @scrappy-22

Yes, would agree. A good indicator and a reason for a child's success IS parent involvement.  However, it can go the other way too.  Blatantly lying or leaving out events would be harming your child's success. 

87GaDawg
87GaDawg

@ATLBorn_Raised


I did.  Amazed.  I don't hold it against the teacher though.  I doubt they read every line of every book they assign.  It was a WWII book that more about the post war events.  Wish I would remember the name.

scrappy-22
scrappy-22

@Astropig @scrappy-22 @87GaDawg

The article was about AP history, not Common Core.  It only says that the same people that disapprove of CC are now disapproving of AP History as well. 


So, even though not on topic, I will say that CC dissenters do a pretty good job of coming off as extremists on their own.  Seems like they just don't want to admit that previous standards were too low, or that they don't want their kids to be compared apples to apples to kids in other states.  Also seem to get 'standards' and 'curriculum' confused, they are different. 

scrappy-22
scrappy-22

@87GaDawg @scrappy-22

And if the book had mentioned or gone into detail about all the people he murdered, would you be complaining that the content was inappropriate for a 6th grader?  Seems darned if you do, and darned if you don't... 

Astropig
Astropig

@scrappy-22 @Astropig @87GaDawg 

" So, even though not on topic, I will say that CC dissenters do a pretty good job of coming off as extremists on their own"

Which is what articles like this are designed to do-make you comfortable with your bigotry.Mission accomplished.

scrappy-22
scrappy-22

@Astropig @scrappy-22 @87GaDawg

"Bigotry"?  Really?   

As I already pointed out, this article was not about CC.  The comments are what brought up the topic. So, your extremists comments have made you look like an extremist, and then you blame the article. 

scrappy-22
scrappy-22

@Astropig @87GaDawg

I think you missed the moral here... 


Parents & Grandparents, and their politics, should stay out of the way of their child / grandchild's future academic success. 


If that is not possible, if you only want your children to learn what you politically approve of,  and they do, then those children don't belong in college. And you will have only yourself to thank.