Senate agrees to dump AP History if changes aren’t made, proving why Georgia never learns

A Republican legislator suggested to me one happy byproduct of the absurd Senate resolution to ban AP U.S. History is, “It took the focus off Common Core.”

Mirza_Khushnam_14Fall_Illu764_AJC 6Last year, state Sen. William Ligon, R-Brunswick, the sponsor of the Dump AP U.S. History resolution, attempted to rid Georgia of the Common Core State Standards, an effort that earned surprising traction in the Legislature. Ligon isn’t an influential senator, and his bill was, as we say in the South, a hot mess.

Ligon’s bill would not only have booted Common Core from Georgia schools; it would have cast out any test, course or curriculum reflecting a national effort, which could have affected the SAT, ACT and AP classes. The bill was moving along until educators and parents rebelled.

The Stop Common Core bill had something in common with the Revise AP U.S. History legislation — both were scripted by extreme right-wing groups trying to win points with voters who contend American values are being stomped by lefties in Birkenstocks and Hollywood liberals in Jimmy Choos.

Of course, the nation’s highest achieving states aren’t participating in this AP U.S. History charade. Parents in those states are not going to sacrifice their children’s education to political farce. And their lawmakers know it, which is why they are ignoring this scripted resolution.

In this scheme, Georgia stands with a handful of states, none of which is an academic leader. (Because true leaders don’t sell out their students for political points.)

Virtually, all the metro Republican senators voted for the resolution yesterday, making me wonder if parents in north Fulton, Cobb, Gwinnett and Forsyth — GOP strongholds and districts with high AP enrollment — were paying attention.

The Senate passed Senate Resolution 80 on a 38-17 party line vote, proving our legislators have not studied their own history. Because it they had, they would recall the last canned piece of education legislation they embraced  – the 65 percent solution – was such a disaster even the GOP sponsor later disavowed it. This will be no different.

SR 80 would have the state withdraw from the AP U.S. history course and replace it with something else if major changes aren’t made by the College Board. The College Board revised its AP U.S. History course to move away from dates and names and into the critical analysis that everyone keeps saying American students lack.

I don’t believe Georgia will ever drop AP U.S. History despite the Senate vote.

At some point, parents in Milton and Peachtree City and Duluth will hear about this and not be happy. APUSH is one of the top AP classes in the state, and parents aren’t going to see their teens denied an opportunity to take the course.

And Georgia — which gets an F today in another new study on where we set the bar in student proficiency — is never going to come up with a version of AP U.S. History that colleges will take seriously.

It’s never going to happen because Georgia is not seen as an education leader.

And the Senate vote shows why.

 

Reader Comments 0

106 comments
Calilion
Calilion

California middle school textbooks ridicule the Catholic Church for the Crusades, the Inquisition, and treatment of Indians at the Missions.  Nary a negative comment was made about Islam - it's portrayal was exceedingly positive.  In fact the book contends that Muslims, Jews and Christians were living peacefully for hundreds of years before the evil Catholic Inquisition.  For some reason it fails to mention minor details like Islam entering Spain and forcibly converting Christians at the point of sword hundreds of years earlier.  An unimportant detail I guess. 


As someone who received the full benefits of an elite East Coast education, I can say with conviction that it is better that there not be AP History if the AP History being taught is anti-American, anti-Christian Leftist garbage.  But then again, indoctrination is already the entire point of such an education at the university level.

Quidocetdiscit
Quidocetdiscit

@Calilion


They do not teach AP history in middle school.  I am sure your text books in middle school were limited in some ways.  So were mine.  When I took history we did not even discuss anything  past WWI.  There was no time.  Very little in my texts reflected poorly on the US.  As a result, my understanding of US history was very biased and limited.  I have had to investigate on my own in the years since to get a more balanced view.  


That said, did you actually take any AP history classes so that you could address the curriculum  covered in a an AP class?


I am trying really hard to recall anything "Anti-American" or "Anti Christian" in my college level classes, but not coming up with anything - including in my recent online classes.   Of course, I have haven't taken a class on campus for many years now - so maybe things have changed? 

jerryeads
jerryeads

What these legislators and other far righters are really terrified of is people who might actually think.

Remember, folks, this is our fault. We elect these idiots - too many of us by virtue of not paying attention and not voting.  And yes, I was one of the guilty for many years.

bu2
bu2

@jerryeads 

No they are afraid of mindless parroting of political correctness and indoctrination.

Astropig
Astropig

@jerryeads


For over 140 years, we elected a different set of idiots. You're a wee bit late to the party,but welcome in.

Antagonist
Antagonist

Just curious. What makes the legislature authorities on education

Lexi3
Lexi3

@Antagonist 


If they are paying for it they certainly have a right to oversee its instruction. Doubtless everyone is aware that the legislative function includes hearings to find facts.

mensa_dropout
mensa_dropout

The College Board is a hot mess.  As an educator, I find that dealing with them is much akin to dealing with the Department of Motor Vehicles; however, APUSH is a valid course.  

Lose the College Board; keep the test. 

Carlos_Castillo
Carlos_Castillo

Maureen,  Who, in particular, is responsible for Georgia's louche NEAP levels for "proficiency?"    


What's their intent? 


I suppose that if we took their low, low, low standards to the logical extreme, we could save beaucoup Bucks by finding all GA students to be geniuses -- and justify closing all our high schools.


Think of the money we could save to keep taxes low, low, low, too.

class80olddog
class80olddog

When I was in High School, there were no AP COURSES (you could take the AP test and colleges would either give you credit for the class or credit plus college hours, depending on how you scored).  What we had were HONORS courses (yes, I know, this is tracking and thus is verboten).  These Honors courses were totally controlled by the local school system, not by the College Board. 


So why do we now kowtow to the College Board?

HollyJones
HollyJones

@class80olddog Speaking purely for my district (Cherokee County), Honors courses are alive and well in high schools.  For example, my daughter will be in Honors 9th grade LIt/Comp next year (and hopefully  Honors 10th grade as well) as a preparation for AP American Lit as a junior.  While a student doesn't have to have been in honors to take AP, I think it helps prepare them for the workload.  Nor does being in Honors require that you then take and AP level course.  


It's not "kowtowing" to provide our students access to a nationally recognized course and test that give them a leg up going into college.  The kowtowing would come in if the College Board scurried back and changed the course to keep our legislators happy.   That's not their job.  


Now, does the College Board hold a monopoly on these courses and tests?  Yep.  Could another company develop an alternative?  Yep.  I don't see a line forming to spend that kind of money and time to do it, though.



BearCasey
BearCasey

I taught A.P. American History from 1981-2006 in both public and private schools.  A.P. History was never a simple memorization of facts and dates.  My classes learned that different interpretations of the same facts exist.  They also learned that events of today influence the writing of history.  Most importantly, my students learned to think.  I cringe at the thought that the state legislature seeks to micro-manage the high school curriculum.  One of the great aspects of the A. P, Program is that gives Georgia's best students the chance to measure themselves against the very best students nationwide.  SR 80 firmly puts Georgia back on the road to inbred mediocrity.

Astropig
Astropig

@BearCasey


A question on that-help me understand a little better here...


Did you ever find anything in the course materials that was misstated,or factually ambiguous? Did you ever deviate from the stated framework because you couldn't present the material as supplied? Did you ever offer your own interpretation of facts and conclusions?


I'd appreciate this info from somebody on the front lines.

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

@MaureenDowney I am in complete agreement with you.  There are no words to adequately describe the shame and embarrassment I feel right now.  My state senator with whom I do respect, supports SR 80 and refused to reply to my email to him about why he should not have supported it. He probably lost my vote next time he runs for re-election.


Ligon and his lackeys want to pick a fight in the wrong place.   For legislators to start meddling into areas best addressed by historians and educators is a very troubling development.  They should focus on the systemic issues in public education, not this.


Georgia is near the bottom of the nation in education because it does stupid things like this.   Political bias into a history course is precisely what Putin is doing to his citizens in Russia.   If the brain trust in the General Assembly would review their history, they would find that our nation has persevered despite issues of race and gender driving many of the historical events in our young history.   Slavery was not resolved when the Constitution was drafted.   The snowball grew until the Civil War.   But racial tension did not go away, and it came to a head again in the Civil Rights era. Wharton Professor Kenneth Shropshire (one of most well known experts on racial issues) has talked about the folly of many people proclaiming we're now in a "post-racial society" since Obama was elected POTUS.   Our country is great DESPITE lingering societal issues.  For ignorant politicians to try and rewrite our history curriculum because "it doesn't sound positive enough" is shallow and very scary at the same time.


As Maureen stated in her post, the high achieving states don't sacrifice their children's education to score political points.   


It makes me worry greatly about the state that I now call "home."

Starik
Starik

History at the AP level shouldn't be just a memorization of facts.  There should argument and discussion.  Was slavery just black and white? Some black people owned slaves. Arab people and black people from other tribes caught and sold them in Africa.  Discuss, argue and debate.  Learn to think critically..

Lexi3
Lexi3

@Starik  Funny, but people who "think critically" and fail to parrot the party line (guess which party) are punished at all levels in schools. And, lots of folks who "teach" the party line don't even realize they've been had. After all, as long as they parrot they receive good grades, which confirms their innate intelligence. As Jerry Clower used to say, "some folks are schooled beyond their intelligence.".

Quidocetdiscit
Quidocetdiscit

@Lexi3 @Starik


Do you have any actual "proof" of your allegations that people who "think critically" are punished in school?  I often give my students assignments where they can argue any side of an issue, as long as the are able to back up their assertions with facts.  We call it "justifying your position."  Their grade does not depend upon what "party line" they take, but upon how well they can support their position.  So, if your position is that people who "think critically" are punished at all levels in school, I ask you to "justify" your position with facts.

Lexi3
Lexi3

@Quidocetdiscit @Lexi3 @Starik 


If you are curious, you might read Stanley Kurtz, anthropologist, once on the Harvard faculty, now at Stanford's Hoover Institution, Peter Wood, president (emeritus?) of the National Association of Scholars and Boston University anthropologist and Michael Toscano ("What does Bowdoin Teach?"--5 or 6 conservatives on a faculty of 182), Robert George, politics professor at Princeton, Walter E. Williams, economist at George Mason U. and Thomas Sowell, economist currently at the Hoover Institution, formerly on the faculties at Cornell, Amherst and UCLA, with degrees from Harvard and Columbia.


These folks, and many others, write extensively about liberal bias in academia, George famously advising his conservative Princeton students not to bother with seeking careers in academia. For a more pedestrian view of academia and liberalism often salted with reports of retaliation, compulsory "sensitivity training" of conservatives and a litany of other anecdotes, I suggest you read the College Fix. Talk about hostile environments for people who don't tow the liberal line. We've had (and have) kids in elite schools, and the reports I get of snarky comments by instructors and teachers about conservatives are alarming, though much less so then when they were in public schools. 


You are correct that I don't know how you conduct your classes and treat your students who disagree with your world view, but I doubt you are in the majority if you are receptive to dissenting opinions.



Caius
Caius

"There's plenty of reasons to be suspicious based on our current history textbooks and how left wing the history departments at our universities are (and those people write the textbooks)."

What do you believe the college/university history departments will teach?  You want your kid to show up  at ABC College totally ignorant of the history you are paying that college to teach them?  You want your kid to get a C instead of an A in that course?


High school, middle school and elementary schools must be tailored to what is taught at the university level or your students sent to the university will face an almost impossible task.

MaureenDowney
MaureenDowney moderator

Facebook always gets a lively discussion on these issues. Here is a comment on the APUSH vote: 


The bad news is the Georgia Senate wants to abandon AP US History if the College Board doesn't make the course more conservative-friendly, and substitute a new curriculum created right here in Georgia. The good news is they're going to base it on the Stone Mountain Laser Show.

Wascatlady
Wascatlady

What little people, so limited, who are unable to see what they wrought! 


I am betting, in our legislature and other leadership rolls, there are few able to argue a position from more than one point of view.  (There are others who can do it, for additional campaign money).

St Simons he-ne-ha
St Simons he-ne-ha

well, they ain't takin banjo lessins out are they?

Who needs Georgia historeh?

Just watch that documentary - Deliverance, and you got it.

DS
DS

Replace critical thinking with all-singing, all-dancing propaganda. Reminds me of the Soviet Union in its heyday, or North Korea today. Chairman Mao would have approved.

bu2
bu2

@DS 

Exactly what those who oppose the course fear, history written by Marxist university professors who are fans of Stalin and Mao.

Lexi3
Lexi3

@Dhiox @bu2 @DS 


Here's a bit of history about "unregulated capitalism":


The Great Depression was caused by misguided regulation of capitalism. First, the Federal Reserve contracted the money supply, raising interest rates. Then FDR's contractionary meddling-fixing wages at above market levels (the Davis-Bacon Act of 1931),  the Smoot-Hawley Act (1930) which suffocated world trade in a misguided effort to protect US industry, anticompetitive industrial commissions, taxes on "luxuries and a host of nightmarish bureaucracies. Students of the period know that the Great Depression was really two serious contractions. The country was coming out of the first--until FDR felt the need to "do something."


Some folks never learn.

Quidocetdiscit
Quidocetdiscit

@Lexi3 


Why are you crediting FDR with the Smoot-Hawley Act?  He was not president at the time it was passed, and even spoke out against it.  The Davis Bacon Act was also signed into law by Hoover. Granted, I am not that versed in Great Depression history, but I doubt you can lay blame for the whole economic collapse at the feet of FDR.  Generally large events like the Great Depression are due to a perfect storm resulting from several underlying causes.  To say it was caused by "misguided regulation of capitalism" is entirely too simplistic a view.

Lexi3
Lexi3

@Quidocetdiscit @Lexi3 


No one blamed FDR for the whole depression. His actions greatly exacerbated the situation just as the economy started to recover. The irony is that most misinformed people, especially big government devotees, believe Roosevelt "saved capitalism." He almost buried it.


What's your explanation for the causes of the Great Depression?? I wrote that misguided regulation was the cause. More fully:


Smoot-Hawley (Amended by democrats-the Reciprocal Trade Agreements Act of 1934),  misguided interest rate policies of the Federal Reserve (which monetarists led by Milton Friedman convincingly argue was a major factor), regressive taxes (shifting federal tax receipts from income to excise taxes), taxes on undistributed corporate profits (dampening investment-Revenue Act of 1935),  imposed by the people's president, FDR, price fixing (through 'codes") of labor and goods by FDR-it was the National Industrial Recovery Act (NRA) of 1933--before it was struck down, the Fair Labor Standards Act (misidentified by me above as Davis Bacon), the Agricultural Adjustment Act, the WPA make-work boondoggle (patronage), and a slew of other alphabet acts and agencies all were contractionary forces, all government made. Unemployment during the first 2 years of the "depression was 3.2% and 8.7% in 1929 and 1930, soaring to 23.6 in 1932 and 24.9 the year FDR took office. The rates then dropped as the country came out of the first contraction, rising again with the "success" of the New Deal, from 14.3 in 1937, 19% in 1938 and 14.6 in 1939, the depression within the depression. Those rates were only forced down as the nation geared up for WWII.

Dhiox
Dhiox

@bu2 @DS Actually, I've taken the AP World History course, and even though they did describe the cons of unregulated capitalism, they were far more critical of communism, china, and the soviet union. They discussed the atrocities committed under communism, and the severe problems with it. Not once did they support communism, they just remarked on a few problems that can occur from unregulated capitalism, like the great depression.

Nidal Ibrahim
Nidal Ibrahim

You know, folks, this is not simply an education question, as much as detractors of AP History would like to cast the issue in those simple terms. This is as much about jobs and economic development and the ability of Georgia to continue to attract companies such as Mercedes Benz, NCR and others. 


Georgia leaders -- Republican and Democrat, conservative and liberal, black and white -- have worked hard to position the state as an attractive location for business relocations. Indeed, they've done an amazing job at it as Georgia is consistently ranked as one of the top states to do business in. 


But let's not kid ourselves: the quality of our educational system, and its ability to turn out top level talent, is absolutely key. Company executives always ask about the quality of the schools when they're looking to relocate their children and their employees' children. Promoting a narrow political agenda disguised in the form of what is and is not "anti-American" will absolutely scare these companies and jobs away. Politicians may want to play nice with the squeaky wheel in the form of right wingers demanding a change in the AP curriculum. But wrecking our ability to compete for jobs -- and by extension our finally-recovering economy -- is the quickest way for these same politicians to be voted out of office. ....as they should be.

bu2
bu2

With common core, those trying to shut it down displayed their ignorance of what common core was.


I haven't heard any examples of why they don't know what they are talking about here.  There's nothing that Maureen says that justifies her disdain.


There's plenty of reasons to be suspicious based on our current history textbooks and how left wing the history departments at our universities are (and those people write the textbooks).

taylor48
taylor48

@bu2 From some complaints that I heard at a GCPS board meeting lately, one of the greatest concerns was that they APUSH textbook that GCPS had selected only spent a paragraph or two on D-Day but took a whole page to cover the Japanese Internment camps.  There was also some concern about the title of the text book as well (Out of Many: One) and some worries that the text started with the history of the Americas rather than just US History.  I'm sure there were other worries, but these are the ones I remember.


Personally, I'd be shocked if some State Senators didn't get a phone call from Alvin Wilbanks today.  He prides himself on GCPS's standing in the country, and one of the ways that school systems are rated is by how many students are enrolled in AP courses, how many students take the AP tests, and how many pass.  Not being able to offer an AP course in any of his schools will ruffle his feathers.  We all know how he is about appearances.  

Starik
Starik

@taylor48 @bu2 Both D-Day and the internment camps deserve a more thorough treatment, but there isn't time in a high school class. Do they cover Lend-Lease?  Pre-war pacifism? The German-American Bund?  Immigration policy toward Jewish refugees from Germany?

smithmc
smithmc

@bu2 If you want Maureen to give examples, why don't you also?  


You assert "plenty of reasons to be suspicious [about] our current history textbooks" and "left wing" history departments at our universities.  Examples?  Proof?

Squirrel_Whisperer
Squirrel_Whisperer

@teacherandmom @taylor48 @bu2  BINGO, teachermom! BINGO! BINGO! BINGO!

This is precisely why most people do not understand why a teacher's job is so time consuming. We spend (in my case 'spent') hours and hours looking for or coming up with ways to help our students learn the material. Instead of spending millions on textbooks that are practically useless, budget money to teachers for learning projects/materials that they are presently paying for out of their own pockets. Give them time to collaborate with their peers on new ideas. Good teachers will always find a way to teach.

teacherandmom
teacherandmom

@taylor48 @bu2 Statements like this show how "out of touch" the general population is with regards to what goes on in the high school classroom.  Our generation remembers textbooks as the "holy grail" of classroom instruction.  In today's high school classroom, the textbook supplements instruction.  My science textbooks sit on a shelf and students check them out when needed.  My textbook is a resource.  It does not drive my daily lesson plans.


Remember in college when you purchased a textbook only to find the professor used it as a resource?  Class discussions, research projects and papers replaced "Read Chapter 10 and and answer the questions at the end of the chapter."  This is what happens in a high school classroom.  Especially AP classrooms...just because the AP book devotes one paragraph to D-Day, don't make the mistake of assuming the teacher does not devote sufficient time to this historical event.




BearCasey
BearCasey

@teacherandmom @taylor48 @bu2  Absolutely correct.  Students did lots of learning on their own time, just as they have to do in college.  We spent our class time on thinking.

dg417s
dg417s

@teacherandmom @taylor48 @bu2 The only thing I typically do with my textbook is assign the vignettes as a bellwork assignment so that I can get attendance done and have the students do vocabulary.  Once in a while, there's a chart worth them copying into their notes, but that is rare. 

OriginalProf
OriginalProf

But will colleges and universities accept this substituted course in place of the College Board course for college credit?  Will the University System of Georgia schools accept it across the state? I really kind of doubt it!

td1234
td1234

@OriginalProf Oh the University system of Georgia will accept it if the Governor supports it and their jobs are on the line.

OriginalProf
OriginalProf

@td1234 @OriginalProf 

Are you kidding? "Their jobs are on the line"? The Governor--and the Regents-- have nothing to say about which faculty teach. This isn't high school!

Dhiox
Dhiox

@td1234 @OriginalProf the governor can't force them to accept it. Besides, what if you want an education out of state? They definitely won't take it. 

Intteach
Intteach

Can we get a definition of what "Anti-American" material is? Is being on food stamps Anti-American? Is falling ill Anti-American? Is being an employee rather than an employer being Anti-American? Was Roosevelt Anti-American? Lincoln? JFK? Maybe our wise legislators will have the answers for us all because we sure are not allowed to make that decision anymore.

bartbuff
bartbuff

Just in the interest of disclosure, I taught APUSH for a number of years, and my kids did very well on the exam.


To be honest, I'm not a big fan of the new framework.  But the issues I have with it are far outweighed by the totally ill-advised effects that would follow SR 80.  It would put Georgia kids at a competitive disadvantage in comparison to their peers, and all in the name of political posturing and grandstanding.  Plain and simple.  That's more than enough reason to oppose the resolution. 

Astropig
Astropig

@bartbuff


I appreciate your POV here. Could you kind of expand on what you find uncomfortable in the new framework? Is there a kernel of truth in the detractors complaints or is it not really as big a deal as they make it out to be?

forexbomb
forexbomb

@bartbuff There will come a day and time, when we have to take back our educational system.. Similar to taking back our country politically...  It's maybe not so prevalent in our engineering schools, but more so in our liberal arts schools where ONE ideology is taught and if a particular student does not comply then they are black balled or as some would say put at a disadvantage..  IMHO, you are completely missing the point of the resolution...  We must all decide when to draw the line, and stick to our guns... Politically we are heading down the wrong path, and education is not far behind...  Yeah, it may be a cynical view point, but a definite sign of the times.. and when do you say enough is enough... Just my 2 cents, your opinion may differ..

historydawg
historydawg

@Astropig Be careful. The College Board defines "POV" very differently than you have. It involves too much critical thinking for your taste and would require too much understanding before pontification. 

bartbuff
bartbuff

@forexbomb Maybe I am missing the point of the resolution.  But I'll be very transparent.  I'm not all that concerned with the point of the resolution.  I'm concerned with the effects of the resolution, and in this case, those would have a decidedly negative impact on kids and their futures.  That's not OK with me, despite whatever differences I have with the revised framework. 

Lexi3
Lexi3

@forexbomb @bartbuff 


Maybe the legislators are tired of taxpayer money being used to indoctrinate successive generations into the world according to Howard Zinn.

Astropig
Astropig

@historydawg @Astropig


Mr. Bartbuff has helped me understand his assertion from earlier.He graciously answered my question. If you want to use it as an opportunity to show your arrogance,I wish you would just butt out.


Thank you.

bartbuff
bartbuff

@Astropig I guess what I'd say is that IMO the revision could stand some more revision, but what I know for sure is that the group under the Gold Dome is certainly not the appropriate group to do it.  Pulling out of APUSH altogether clearly does far more harm to kids than a) working with AP teachers to ensure kids get what they need - more revisions or not, and b) working through established processes to further revise the framework (which the CB has conceded it is very open to).  

bartbuff
bartbuff

@Astropig Well, in short, I worry that the revisions may water the curriculum down a little and could result in the student's experience not being quite as rigorous as it once was - and thus not as effective college prep as in the past.  The flexibility allowed, just in reading between the lines, I think is more a compromise/admission that the course just simply contains too much content (i.e., history just keeps being added to) for one standard Carnegie unit of instruction.  To really do it right, it'd need to be 2 courses, divided roughly at the CW or Reconstruction, which is typically what most every college in America does with survey US History courses.  College Board knows that's not going to happen any time soon, so providing some measure of flexibility on topical content appears to me to be a compromise.  However, it appears to be just that to me -- not some grand conspiracy to teach any particular slant or view of US History.  The bottomline is unchanged.  Good teachers will get kids the content and skills they need, regardless of what any framework says or doesn't say.  

BearCasey
BearCasey

@bartbuff @Astropig  Bartbuff's post is precisely correct.  I taught A.P. U.S. History from 1981 until 2006.  It really does need to be a two-year course.  The amount of necessary content was often overwhelming.  The good news is that successful A.P. students learned to learn independently.