I stumbled upon this article from Breitbart yesterday about new College Board standards for its AP U.S. History course. It’s quite troubling:
Beginning in August, such a course will be offered to 500,000 of America’s most talented high-school sophomores and juniors – the College Board’s new AP U.S. History Framework. The new College Board Framework will replace the traditional 5-page topical outline with a 98-page document that dictates how teachers should cover the required topics. George Washington gets one brief mention; other founders, such as Benjamin Franklin and James Madison, none. The Declaration of Independence is referred to in passing in one clause of one sentence.
If the Framework virtually ignores the most important men and documents in American history, what does it find worthy of attention? The answer is, pretty much anything that casts a negative light on our country. The redesigned Framework inculcates a consistently negative view of American history by highlighting oppressors and exploiters while ignoring the dreamers and innovators who built our country.
The Framework asserts that the British-American colonies were characterized by the development of “a rigid racial hierarchy” (page 27) that was in turn derived from “a strong belief in British racial and cultural superiority” (page 29) – and teaches that much of the rest of American history was shaped by those beliefs. There is much emphasis on mistreatment of slaves and native people, but none on truly revolutionary founding principles that laid the groundwork for the freest nation on earth (consent of the governed, development of democratic institutions, religious liberty). World War II was a time of racial discrimination and other inequities, not of massive sacrifice and achievement by soldiers and civilians alike.
For those of you who’ve taken Advanced Placement (AP) courses in high school–I was one of those kids–you’ll recall how time-consuming, challenging, and worthwhile these classes were. I took (and passed) most of my AP tests that resulted in me having a year’s worth of college credit completed. Despite how grueling AP classes were, I learned a lot and felt prepared for college.
I went out of my way to qualify and participate in AP classes during my time at Tesoro High School (’09) in Rancho Santa Margarita, California. The “regular” classes, as we called them, were lax and dull. Teachers who oversaw these classes were generally careless. Students who were enrolled in these classes were generally unmotivated. The coursework of regular classes was mediocre or worse–borderline propaganda. As a smart and capable student–because I’ve benefited from “white privilege” right?–I didn’t want to waste my time taking classes that would stifle my learning potential. Call it elitism, call it arrogance–I made the choice to challenge myself. Most of my leftist peers in AP classes also decided to do the same.
Why is College Board trying to shape AP classes in the mold of regular classes? Why equalize the academic field?
When I graduated from Tesoro High School in June 2009, I felt prepared for college at UCSD (’12) because of our Advanced Placement program. My school had a generally rigorous AP program consisting of 20 AP courses. (The exception was AP Environmental Science because the content was silly and all our class did was watch movies/bake pancakes.) I took 10 courses from 10th-12th grade, graduated with a 4.4. GPA, and received the AP Scholar with Distinction Award from College Board. One of my favorite classes was Mr. Harnett’s AP U.S. History class during sophomore year of HS. For our summer reading, we were required to read Alexis de Tocqueville’s Democracy in America (which I didn’t realize at the time was quite conservative and pro-America). He was a fair teacher who challenged his students to learn. He kept any bias he held hidden, which was greatly appreciated. Mr. Harnett never used his class to condemn America or complain about the U.S. Constitution. His class was enjoyable and one of the most sought-after classes in the entire school.
It’s a shame that the College Board has mandated AP teachers to teach students to revile and despise this country. AP U.S. History should celebrate America’s greatness and our unique political system.
Shame on you, College Board.