And there are problems with this latest revision of the AP history course created by the private College Board which rewrites “frameworks” if not revising history as well — as some critics contend. The board also creates the tests for AP students and provides SAT exams, extremely important to college-bound students.
The new AP U.S. history framework, APUSH for short, “reflects a radically revisionist view of American history that emphasizes negative aspects of our nation’s history while omitting or minimizing the positive aspects,” said the Republican National Committee in a resolution calling for the College Board to hold up rollout of the new course for at least a year and for state legislatures to investigate the matter. There are academics who also fault the new framework.
The Cobb School District’s chief academic officer, Mary Elizabeth Davis, acknowledged that the new APUSH “shifts away from sort of the American facts and a very memorization heavy AP course, and they have created a framework that is much more about being historically analytical and analyzing historical events in the U.S.” But she said Cobb students “are also simultaneously responsible for learning the regular U.S. history course standards that are approved by the state.”
Cobb school board Chairwoman Kathleen Angelucci is among those challenging the new course. She cited the College Board’s description: “The AP exam will measure student proficiency in the historical thinking skills as well as the thematic learning objectives.”
Angelucci, like others questioning the new framework, said it “offers a very negative view of American history, which emphasizes every problem and failing of our ancestors, while ignoring or minimizing their achievements. … No mention of Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, James Madison and John Adams and almost none of the Declaration of Independence?” Nor are Frederick Douglass and the Monroe Doctrine included, among other omissions.
Angelucci responded by email to a follow-up question about what happens next, saying the Cobb superintendent and staff “have assured the board that the standards are a base, students will be taught above the base standards.” She added: “While this is somewhat comforting, the truth of the matter is that if Cobb wants its students to do well on the APUSH exam, teachers will have to teach to the test and ignore their own state standards.” Indeed.
Angelucci said: “What is very disconcerting is the level of omission and departure from actual historical events that is already accepted, and equally disturbing is how indoctrination will be the order of the day.”
Instead of “historical thinking skills” and historical analysis, students first should learn the factual history of America, including the good, the bad and the indifferent. Not selective facts that focus on the negative or the positive — just the unvarnished facts. That’s what our students need.