The Georgia Senate is considering a resolution condemning changes to the Advanced Placement U.S. History (APUSH) test, because they’re worried the new framework doesn’t adequately teach high schoolers how wonderful America is. Georgia is only the latest of several states to have itself a nice freakout over the College Board’s new APUSH framework since the Republican National Committee complained last August that it presented a “consistently negative view of American history.”
The Georgia Senate’s resolution, introduced by state Sen. William Ligon, simply copy-pastes several of the RNC’s chief complaints about the new APUSH framework. We found at least three sections that were taken almost verbatim from the RNC resolution, which strikes us as the sort of lazy work that a student in an advanced placement class would be penalized for:
WHEREAS, the new APUSH framework reflects a radically revisionist view of American history that emphasizes negative aspects of our nation’s history while omitting or minimizing positive aspects; and
WHEREAS, the framework minimizes discussion of America’s Founding Fathers, the principles of the Declaration of Independence, the religious influences on our nation’s history, and many other critical topics that have long been part of the APUSH course; and
WHEREAS, the framework presents a biased and inaccurate view of many important themes and events in American history, including the motivations and actions of seventeenth to nineteenth century settlers, the nature of the American free enterprise system, the course and resolution of the Great Depression, and the development of and victory in the Cold War
We suppose we can give Sen. Ligon a bit of credit for correcting a typo in the RNC’s version, which said “apart of the APUSH course.” The question of why basic facts about the Founders belong in an advanced placement class, and not third grade, is not addressed by the draft resolution.
Sen. Ligon — who we believe is not actually related to the offspring of a lion and a tiger, but who knows — added some fun threats to the Georgia resolution, demanding that if the College Board doesn’t restore the previous framework and test, then the state of Georgia will “cease expending any state funds on professional development activities, textbooks, or other instructional materials aligned to APUSH” and also will hold its breath until it turns gay.
As we noted back in August, the campaign against the new APUSH framework is largely the brainchild of a conservative former teacher named Larry Krieger, who worries the new standards don’t emphasize “American Exceptionalism” enough and don’t show enough love for the Founding Fathers. Oh, and he also has a test-preparation business and several books aimed at helping students memorize stuff for the old exam, which are now worthless since the new framework relies less on rote memorization and more on interpreting primary texts — including, yes, the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and so on.
But only a churlish cur would suggest Krieger is motivated by mere pecuniary interests. He also appears to be a genuinely devoted wingnut who simply wants the truth about America’s undeniable awesomeness to be taught. And of course, the rightwing freakout over the APUSH standards dovetails nicely with rightwing fears that the Common Core is going to corrupt the innocent schoolchildren. While there’s no actual connection between Common Core and the revisions to APUSH, Phyllis Schlafly quite happily lies in her January 2015 newsletter and claims that the AP framework is part of Common Core (which, out in Reality Land, doesn’t even have a social studies component — just reading and math).
The College Board has, in a rearguard action, attempted to counter the rightwing freakout by putting the entire framework online, along with a sample test, along with a Please Stop Shitting Yourselves FAQ aimed at debunking the claims of the screamy folk, but mere actual copies of the curriculum don’t seem to be nearly as persuasive as scary stories about how the liberals are trying to indoctrinate students to hate America.
So far, the scary stories about leftwing boogeymen seem to be winning in places like Georgia, even though the Georgia Partnership for Excellence in Education tried debunking those claims with actual examples from the APUSH framework. Fear and the culture war narrative appear to be winning.
You’d think there might be a lesson in that, somehow.