Picture by Rachel Zenzinger (@Zenzinger_AtoZ)
There’s a lot of things going on this country that bother us, as you’ve probably noticed by now. The defunding and dumbing down of the educational system by our conservative brethren has to be near the top of the list of things that get us going on a rant, though. We did a piece on this earlier this year, as well as touched on it in numerous posts; it’s a subject we could probably write about every day.
The latest target of conservative activists is the new Advanced Placement U.S. history test and its 125-page “framework” of suggested classroom topics. Now, you’d think that this wouldn’t spark controversy; after all, the test and guidelines are produced by the College Board – a private company that produces the AP tests, the SAT and other standardized exams – and not some “big government” agency. So, why the outrage? Because, according to the critics, they aren’t teaching “American exceptionalism.”
The Republican National Committee denounced the new framework, claiming that the program depicts American colonists as “oppressors and exploiters while ignoring the dreamers and innovators who built our country.” Stanley Kurtz wrote in the National Review that the new curriculum “will effectively force American high schools to teach U.S. history from a leftist perspective.
“The origins of the new AP U.S. History framework are closely tied to a movement of left-leaning historians that aims to ‘internationalize’ the teaching of American history. The goal is to ‘end American history as we have known it’ by substituting a more ‘transnational’ narrative for the traditional account.”
The state of Texas, as is to be expected, agrees wholeheartedly with this position. Last week, the Texas Board of Education moved to ignore the AP’s new framework and continue teaching students as if they were taking the old test.
In Jefferson County, Colorado, the school district proposed setting up a curriculum review board. The proposal said that the committee would make sure that U.S. history materials “promote citizenship, patriotism, essentials and benefits of the free enterprise system, respect for authority and respect for individual rights. Materials should not encourage or condone civil disorder, social strife or disregard of the law. Instructional materials should present positive aspects of the United States and its heritage. Content pertaining to political and social movements in U.S. history should present balanced and factual treatments of the positions.”
This did not go over well with students and teachers at the district schools, who saw the proposal as an attempt to censor what was taught in school as well as teach revisionist history. Last Friday, teachers shut down two high schools for the day by calling in sick. On Monday, 250 students walked out of Evergreen High School. CBS Denver reported that yesterday, “approximately 500 students walked out at Arvada West High School and 400 at Arvada High School. Approximately 300 students walked out at Golden High School and about 200 students went to the school offices in connection with the protest.”
Occupy World Writes stands in solidarity with the students and teachers of Jefferson County. We have to wonder whether the people who are against the framework really think they’re doing our children a favor by having them learn revisionist history instead of what actually happened. A whitewashed version where our founding fathers were epitomes of perfection instead of the flawed human beings they actually were. Teaching about an imaginary dreamscape where free market economics and America are always right, instead of teaching about income inequality, slavery and the darker moments of America’s heritage.
Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it…