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Why Oklahoma Lawmakers Voted to Ban AP U.S. History

Historians in the News
tags: AP exam, APUSH



This week in things we wish were just a Colbert Report sketch, an Oklahoma legislative committee overwhelmingly approved a bill that would cut funding for the teaching of Advanced Placement U.S. History. The 11 Republicans who approved the measure over the objections of four Democrats weren't trying to win over Oklahoma's lazy high-school juniors. Tulsa World reports that Representative Dan Fisher, who introduced the bill, lamented during Monday's hearing that the new AP U.S. History framework emphasizes "what is bad about America" and doesn't teach "American exceptionalism." It's a complaint that's been spreading among mostly conservative state legislatures in recent months and has some calling for a ban on all AP courses.

Earlier this month, the Georgia state Senate introduced a resolution that rejects a new version of the AP U.S. History course for presenting a "radically revisionist view of American history" and minimizing "discussion of America’s Founding Fathers, the principles of the Declaration of Independence, [and] the religious influences on our nation’s history." It says that if the College Board does not revise the test, Georgia will cut funding for the course. The exam has also sparked controversy in TexasNorth CarolinaSouth Carolina, and Colorado, where students in Jefferson County protested last fall when a school-board member said the course should be modified to promote "patriotism" and discourage "civil disorder, social strife, or disregard of the law."

The conservative lawmakers' issues with the course, which was taken by 344,938 students in 2013, can be traced back to retired high-school history teacher Larry S. Krieger. Two years ago, the College Board released a revised framework for the exam, which took effect this fall. Krieger was incensed by the changes. "As I read through the document, I saw a consistently negative view of American history that highlights oppressors and exploiters," he said during a conference call in August, according toNewsweek.

Krieger complained that the framework portrays the Founding Fathers as "bigots" and suggests that Manifest Destiny was "built on a belief in white racial superiority and a sense of American cultural superiority," rather than "the belief that America had a mission to spread democracy and new technology across the continent," as he put it. And instead of discussing the "the valor or heroism of American soldiers" during World War II, the course outline mentions U.S. internment camps and moral questions raised by the dropping of the atomic bomb. ...

Read entire article at New York Magazine


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