The curriculum for Advanced Placement US History (APUSH) has made more news recently than most high school courses ever will. Conservatives have attacked the College Board, which is in charge of setting standards for the class, for presenting a “negative” view of American history by including such topics as Japanese internment camps, acts of civil disobedience, slavery and civil rights issues, and women’s struggle for equality.
Conservative mouthpiece Ben Carson, who is not a teacher and has never held any public office but is a GOP presidential frontrunner for some reason, has even gone so far as to say that teaching the new version of APUSH would make students “ready to go sign up for ISIS.”
After a review of these new standards was proposed by a conservative-filled school board in suburban Denver, students, teachers, and parents were outraged. Students and teachers participated in acts of civil disobedience of their own, using walk outs and sick outs to voice their opinions. Two schools were even closed earlier this week because of the lack of teachers in attendance.
At a meeting this week, the board voted 3-2 to add students and parents to to two curriculum review committees, but two members of the board who oppose the conservative majority “held their heads in their hands after losing a bid to delay to the vote so they could have more time to study the plan,” the Associated Press reported.
“What’s the rush?” asked board member Lesley Dahlkemper, whose challenges to board president were met with cheers from those in attendance.
Julie Williams, one of the board’s conservative members, refused to withdraw her original proposal for a course review, which included changing the curriculum to focus more on the founding fathers, patriotism, and citizenship and ignore the less-pleasant aspects of US history (of which there is no shortage).
If the school board does review the APUSH curriculum and decides to change the standards from the ones the College Board has set, students in the 17 high schools in the Colorado district will suffer the consequences. The College Board has previously said that if the course doesn’t cover topics they included, the course cannot be called APUSH and students would not be allowed to take the test–which earns them college credit.
Conservatives are unhappy that the new APUSH standards veer away from the “America-is-always-right and white-men-are-the-greatest” version of history they believe should be taught. Dumbing down and whitewashing history classes won’t change the past, and certainly won’t help America’s students. As the US continues to be passed by other developing nations in education, the GOP would sacrifice our classrooms just to keep students inline with their inaccurate view of America.