Opinion: Leftist slant to AP U.S. History turns America’s melting pot into boiling pot

Georgia state Sen. William Ligon, Majority Caucus Chairman, explains why he wants the College Board to revise its AP U.S. History Course and why he is sponsoring a resolution to that effect.


 

Leftist slant to AP U.S. History turns America’s melting pot into boiling pot

By SEN. WILLIAM LIGON, R-Brunswick, Majority Caucus Chairman

State Sen. William Ligon says revisions to AP U.S. History have a leftist slant.

State Sen. William Ligon says revisions to AP U.S. History have a leftist slant.

The progressive establishment is circling the wagons to protect the College Board from criticism.

That criticism comes in the form of SR 80, a Senate resolution that asks the College Board to de-politicize its new Advanced Placement U.S. History (APUSH) course and urges competition to the College Board’s monopoly. Despite headlines that the “sky is falling,” SR 80 does not ban AP courses or testing.

I offered the resolution as a response to the new APUSH Framework, which radically transforms the traditional APUSH course. The College Board requires educators to teach history through “themes” and “key concepts” that create a distorted and incomplete understanding of our American story.

Although the College Board advocates that the new Framework will help develop students’ “historical thinking skills,” what kind of conclusions will students draw from this Framework that minimizes America’s attributes yet maximizes her flaws? Understanding history has always required “thinking skills.” How could our country have endured if our students had not learned these “skills?”

In any event, let’s see what “thinking skills” come with the new APUSH Framework.

A review of the Framework (available online – I recommend that all Georgians read it) reveals a leftist slant which sets the tone for much of the document.

While the previous APUSH course defined the theme of Identity as “[v]iews of the American national character and ideas about American exceptionalism,” the new Framework omits American exceptionalism and instructs teachers to pay “special attention . . . to the formation of gender, class, racial, and ethnic identities.” (p. 21). This theme – oppression of and conflict among identity groups — is the lens through which much of American history is taught. Gone is America as the great melting pot; it is the boiling pot.

The concept of Manifest Destiny, we now learn, was “built on a belief in white racial superiority and a sense of American cultural superiority . . . .” (p. 55), rather than America’s commitment to expand democratic ideals. Even a College Board representative, testifying in Georgia, admitted that this statement is “the low point” of the Framework.

The free enterprise system — never referred to as “free enterprise” but rather as “big business,” “corporate interests,” and “monopolies” — had little positive effect on the country’s development; rather, rapacious business interests despoiled the environment and oppressed workers, especially immigrants (pp. 61-66).

Ronald Reagan, portrayed as “bellicose” and double-minded in his Cold War strategy, only achieves success by becoming friendly with Mikhail Gorbachev (p. 79).

The selection of examples for teachers to use in the classroom signals another leftward tilt. In the first version of the Framework, we protested the fact that Dr. Martin Luther King was excluded from the section on Civil Rights while the Black Panthers were included. Similar examples still abound.

An incomplete and unbalanced presentation of American history cheats our students of their true heritage. It ensures that they will make future decisions with a base of knowledge that is defective. Future leaders must know our history in order to nurture liberty, protect free enterprise, avoid the mistakes of the past, and build upon the founding principles that have made this nation a beacon of hope around the world.

There is nothing sacrosanct about the unaccountable College Board. As with all vendors, a little competition could go a long way toward keeping this soon-to-be billion-dollar corporation accountable. Its coursework and testing for our college-bound students, paid for in part by taxpayer funding, has no free pass to avoid inspection or competition.

This is what SR 80 is about, and this is why it just passed the Senate, 38-17.

 

 

Reader Comments 0

122 comments
Secret Agentfm
Secret Agentfm

Sorry guys, but Georgia doesn't control the College Board (creator of the globally recognized SAT test and AP testing)


If Georgia wants to opt out of providing a cost effective way for kids to get a jump on college and earn credits....it's their own funeral.  Poor kids, though.  Sad.



JohnPat
JohnPat

Mr. Ligon may be a bit naive about America's history.  A nation does not become great just by yammering about how great it is.  

Starik
Starik

“No man's life, liberty, or property are safe while the legislature is in session.” - Mark Twain

JB-
JB-

Germany had one of the best education systems in the world. Then the Nazis decided that schools didn’t need to teach children to read, think critically, and interpret; they certainly didn’t need science. They just needed to be taught the facts: Aryans were exceptional compared to everyone else; Aryans were smarter, stronger and culturally superior. Germany would naturally win every competition and conflict. If they didn’t, then it was due to some kind of cheating or because they allowed inferior people to live among them. In a few short years Germany’s quality of education went from dazzling to dismal and the great minds that remained fled to other countries.

MaureenDowney
MaureenDowney moderator

Folks, I have no idea what is going on with commenting, but I am copying all your complaints to our IT folks. MaryElizabethSings posted this on my new entry on the just-released school climate ratings because she could not get it to post here. If you are having problems posting, email me  your comment and I will add it:

Here is her comment:


It is very frustrating for me to want to respond on the last thread, but not be able to sign in for hours on end. My ability to sign in on AJC blogs is presently "hit or miss." If you have not received a needed response from me on that last thread, I will respond, as soon as the "sign in" window is given to me.  I have talked with IT personnel on this problem and they are working on it.


While I am able to sign in on this thread, to Quid:  Quid, thanks for your response to Astropig.  Your response exactly reflects my thoughts regarding the perceptions of Lincoln and MLK.  Astropig, as usual, has misunderstood my thinking and, as a result, has misrepresented my thoughts to the public.

Quidocetdiscit
Quidocetdiscit

@Astropig @MaureenDowney


Astro,


A friendly suggestion: Either stop with the personal attacks, or do not get your feathers ruffled when others give you a taste of your own medicine.  You reap what you sow.

bu2
bu2

@MaureenDowney 

Its not just commenting.  Its hard sometimes to read the comments or even the column.

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

What we need is depth of understanding, not so-called "balance" between those of limited perceptions.

cyberteach
cyberteach

Ligon's time-wasting resolution is one of the reasons people are so fed up with the state legislature.  Why PBS wasted precious minutes last week giving him airtime on this silliness is beyond me, unless they couldn't get anyone else that night.  I resent the time Mr. Ligon has wasted on this when there are so many more issues that directly impact his constituents, such as trying to get a decent bill to pass to protect Georgia's marshes and their buffers.  But, hey, standing up for his coastal constituents might be politically dangerous.  Throwing out some time-wasting red meat full of conservative clichés is much easier---especially when a resolution has no chance of changing anything. 

BearCasey
BearCasey

@cyberteach  Mr.. Ligon is one of those Republicans who have discovered DEMOGRAPHICS.  The Republicans have won the national popular vote only one time since 1988 and the trend for his party among young voters isn't good.  Hence his efforts to brainwash the smart kids in A.P.  It's not just him, it's the Republican National Committee.

HallcoTeacher
HallcoTeacher

Mr. Ligon's statement would not pass muster in an actual AP class. For example, here is one of the sections from the APUSH manual that he regards as leftist:

"President Ronald Reagan, who initially rejected détente with increased defense spending, military action, and bellicose rhetoric, later developed a friendly relationship with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, leading to significant arms reductions by both countries." (p. 79)


Here's how Mr. Ligon characterized the passage: "Ronald Reagan, portrayed as “bellicose” and double-minded in his Cold War strategy, only achieves success by becoming friendly with Mikhail Gorbachev (p. 79)."


I find two issues here. 


First, the first paragraph (from the APUSH manual) is succinct, evenhanded and factually accurate. I do not see how any knowledgeable commentator, leftist or rightest can quarrel with it..There is plenty that can be added, but it is a fair summary. 


Second, Mr. Ligon's description is simply wrong and even worse, dishonest. Someone PLEASE CORRECT ME if you read Mr. Ligon's description as being truthful.




*Coincidentally, I happen to be rereading "The Cold War: A New History" by John Lewis Gaddis. This guy is considered one of the preeminent scholars of the Cold War. He's a big fan of Reagan's and a Neocon to boot.. The APUSH summary could have come straight out of his book.

redweather
redweather

@HallcoTeacher  And what does "double-minded" mean?  That Reagan was capable of doing some critical thinking on the issue of the arms race and reaching a mutually beneficial (or tolerable) solution?  Shouldn't he be praised for that?  Or is Mr. Ligon giving himself away?  Maybe he's one of those people who considers compromise ( and governing) political anathema.

bu2
bu2

@HallcoTeacher @bu2 


Your suggestion is good.

But the framework is "giving" the answer as Reagan changed and became friendly with Gorbachev making the difference.

HallcoTeacher
HallcoTeacher

@bu2 That was just one element that led to other breakthroughs. Reagan himself believed that if he could develop a personal relationship with other leaders that he and they could work things out sensibly. Reagan fans would definitely agree with this.

I don't think the APUSH is limiting possible responses with this clause, but opening the door to other lines of inquiry.

HallcoTeacher
HallcoTeacher

@bu2 @HallcoTeacher That is definitely one very common interpretation of the events. A great assignment for an AP class would be to investigate this further and to consider alternatives. I think the APUSH summary is broad enough to encourage a lot of different viewpoints. What do you think?

Astropig
Astropig

@HallcoTeacher 

Friendly suggestion-

You might also want to read "Down With Big Brother" (Michael Dobbs) and "Revolution 1989: The Fall Of The Soviet Empire" (Victor Sebesteyn) for some depth and texture in your studies.

HallcoTeacher
HallcoTeacher

@bu2 The link doesn't work, but I found the article by searching the site for Boris Yeltsin. Interesting!

bu2
bu2

@HallcoTeacher 

The USSR was spent into oblivion by Reagan's defense buildup.  They realized they couldn't keep up.  That pressure is what lead to arms reductions and shortly thereafter, the collapse of the USSR, not friendship.  Reagan buried them economically.

HallcoTeacher
HallcoTeacher

@redweather That's an awkward phrase isn't it? Judging from the context I would agree... that Mr. Ligon's see's the APUSH paragraph implying that Reagan's views on the Soviets evolved Iit does and it did) and that, somehow, is an insult to Reagan.

redweather
redweather

@bu2 @HallcoTeacher  Not so fast.  It says he later developed a friendly relationship with Gorbachev.  Gorbachev might have been the one who changed.

RealLurker
RealLurker

I have not read through the entire framework.  Unless it is extremely biased toward the left, I don't have a real problem with it.  The potential problem I see is with the grading.  The AP exam has: multiple choice, short answer, and essay questions.  Even the multiple choice questions "could" be biased, but at least there is an answer that should be selected.  In the short answer and essay questions, how does the grader decide if the student has satisfied the rubic?  On the old Regent's Exam in college, you had to write an essay.  The essay had to be properly written, but the content of the essay did not have to be true.  You could argue that smoking is good for you and back it up with claims.  Even if the claims were not true, the grammar was graded, not the content.  On the AP US History exam, the essay questions apparently give you documents as reference.  You have to make a thesis, and back up the thesis with supporting materials from the documents.  In that case, it is not just the grammar, but the content being well reasoned and backed up by the documents that is graded.  The thing I question is: If the student arrives at a conclusion that he can support and back up with information from the documents, will he be penalized by the grader if the grader does not arrive at the same conclusion with that information?

RealLurker
RealLurker

@BearCasey  That is what I was wondering.  If there are documents about Bill Clinton, different people could read them and separately conclude that he was a great President, or a lying cheat.  As long as the grading does not care what conclusion is arrived at as long as statements from the documents can support their claims, I am fine with it.  If the graders discount arguments because of weighting, (If the grader discounted an essay claiming that Clinton was great because the student didn't give enough weight to his flaws, or discounted an essay claiming that Clinton was a liar because the student didn't give enough weight to his accomplishments) then I would have a problem with the system.


In 10th grade English, we were supposed to interpret poetry.  The teacher emphasized that we could come up with any interpretation as long as it was relevant to the poem.  However, when we were graded, we didn't get credit unless the interpretation matched the official interpretation.  There was even a poem by Edger Allen Poe that had an official interpretation.  However, Poe had specifically stated in other writing that when he wrote that poem, he was specifically penning different ideas than the official interpretation.  The textbook actually stated that the author did not know what his own writing was about.  That is the kind of thing that concerns me.  In science it is usually young scientists that develop revolutionary theories.  The older scientists are usually well tuned to the accepted science while younger scientists still question everything, even accepted science.

BearCasey
BearCasey

@RealLurker  The document based question part of the A.P. Exam is really cool.  The student has to exhibit an understanding of history as a discipline by using info in primary source documents to form a thesis and support assertions.  When I taught AP the students could choose between two document based questions.  You won't be graded down as long as your assertions are backed by info in the documents.  If the student just gives his opinion on something, he/she is graded down.

jerryeads
jerryeads

I guess we shouldn't be surprised that the Neanderthals can't spell either - - - And yes, sadly, these are the people we elect. Doesn't say much for the education of the past, does it. Jeff Daniels (born in Athens, if anyone cares) plays the (very conservative) anchor on the HBO series The Newsroom. There's a short piece of him answering a student's question about "Why the United States is the greatest country in the world." His answer, NOT FOR THE FAINT OF EAR (there's a four-letter word or three in the clip), is in youtube. I didn't realize it would post the clip when I provided the link, so I'll suggest you search for it.


historydawg
historydawg

@Astropig Astro, you have a lot of nerve accusing others of irrationality, ignorance, and refusal to consider others' side. Any perusal of this blogs' message boards proves that you will not participate in a rational argument that requires outside research and understanding, if given the chance. This passive aggressive shout-out to Ligon defending teachers is disingenuous and sad. You have proven you know little about education and having little other than disgust for teachers. When confronted with evidence contrary to your ideology, you resort to jabs about the President or the last election for Governor.

Astropig
Astropig

@jerryeads 

Oh, BTW- I'm pretty sure that Daniels plays a fictional character. I'm not sure that I would draw any conclusions from what a make believe character says,but that's just me.

bu2
bu2

@Astropig @jerryeads 

He doesn't even understand that we, unless you are 100% African, are all Neanderthals.  The first humans out of Africa mixed with the Neanderthals.  They speculate we kept DNA that provided some kind of immune system improvements, among other things.  And Neanderthal's actually had bigger brains than the Cro Magons who replaced them.


Point being, don't call people names.

Astropig
Astropig

@bu2 @Astropig @jerryeads 

Closed circuit to Sen Ligon- Please don't take the more irrational posters here as representative of all teachers.They're not. Most teachers are kind,hard working,reasonable and balanced in their presentation of history.They have a hard job trying to make the subject interesting and relevant in an era of 24/7 amusement and entertainment.The people that call names have an agenda of which education is only a part.Please view their comments in that context.

Astropig
Astropig

@jerryeads 

Characterizing this man a "Neanderthal" because you disagree with him tells me that I'm glad that it's him in office and not you. I can reason with a man or woman that can have a spirited give and take,but when their first reaction is the same thing that I would hear in a kindergarten sandbox,they are instantly discredited,in my eyes.



dcdcdc
dcdcdc

American Exceptionalism...what a quaint and outdated concept - to the idiot libs who permeate this board.  Love watching them blubber all over themselves about what a idiot this guy is - meanwhile he and his party get elected by the actual voters - you know, the actual people who matter.


Not the lib eduacracy chattering class here who think so highly and smugly of themselves, and how superior they are too the neanderthals.


Hows that working out for you in the legislature?? :)

Belinda51
Belinda51

Living in outdated Ed --- "People don't elect representatives because they're smart. They elect them because they are public speakers who know how to talk out of both sides of their mouth." Exactly. How do you think Obama was elected twice?

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

@dcdcdc I think this blog would welcome your substantive comments on how APUSH is not accurately portraying US History. What version of history are you trying to pontificate on?    People don't elect representatives because they're smart.   They elect them because they are public speakers who know how to talk out of both sides of their mouth.   Ligon can follow Bachmann and others who are ignorant to our actual history and wish to rewrite it the same way that Putin is doing in Russia.


The silent majority will believe what they want to believe.  Ligon was elected because his constituents are all righties.   Ever heard of gerrymandering?    That's what's happening all across this nation.   You gain enough power so you can get voters to allow you to redraw the lines to preserve your power.

BearCasey
BearCasey

@dcdcdc  I agree about the voters.  I think of this every time someone unleashes vitriolic comments at the President.  His margin of victory over Mr. Romney was almost 5 million votes... not even close.  Actual voters elected the President.

TicTacs
TicTacs

This fellow is an idiot.

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

OMG! Like I said in the last blog post, Ligon's op-ed wouldn't be worth the price of the paper it was printed on.   It is one thing to criticize the monopolies in public education (there are many BESIDES College Board - has he looked at the textbook publishers lately and how much they get from K-12?), but it is reckless and appalling for Mr. Ligon to accuse the educators who created this framework in a public forum that it they're politically biased.


Would Mr. Ligon like to have a history lesson from historians?   For every nitpick Mr. Ligon makes, I am 100% confident that teachers will rebut him with other pieces of evidence.  Look what Chad Hoge did in Maureen's most recent post!


Mr. Ligon is simply trying to cater to his base of Tea Party lackeys.   I urge Mr. Ligon to talk to history teachers and Get Schooled!   


It just passed the Senate because it's dominated by Republicans.   Mr. Ligon is trying to convince himself that the original version was not to force the College Board to rewrite the framework or else Georgia would not recognize it and de-fund APUSH.   I am terrified at the power (or the perceived power) that Mr. Ligon is wielding.  He is reckless and meddling where he has no business meddling.


I challenge Mr. Ligon to find 5 credible history experts who would be willing to go on the record, even on this blog, defending his assertions that the standards are not balanced.   It seems Mr. Ligon wants to brainwash people into thinking that everything in our history was favorable and that we should not teach our kids that while our nation is great, we continue to grapple with major issues that have created divisiveness in our republic.


I have already said more than I wanted to, but Georgians should not sit idly while this out of touch legislator tries to inject political bias into our nation's history.  He exemplifies everything that is wrong with Georgia politics, and our nation's politics for that matter.  Our two party system has confirmed all of John Adams' fears which were absolutely clairvoyant and spot on, sad to say.

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

@bu2 @living-in-outdated-ed lets get a third party credible source to weigh in, ok?  How about identifying who this "guy" is that said it needed tweaking? And those discussions can be had discretely - negotiation in the public domain NEVER works.   I'm sure the guy who said that isn't on very solid ground with his employer.

bu2
bu2

@living-in-outdated-ed @bu2 

Can't find the link, but it was an AJC article.  He was speaking against the resolution and may have been the college board's representative in the Georgia hearings.


He couldn't deny the obvious, but said they were fixing that one point mentioned.