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Breaking: Western Civ Reinstated at Stanford



By Bill Korach


American and European History just got a Christmas present from Stanford University: Western Civ is back! Thanks to the hard work of The National Association of Scholars, Stanford agreed to reinstate Western Civ.


So why do the Stanford students want Western Civ? As these students argue in their manifesto, by knowing the West we can understand how knowledge has grown over time; how dictatorships rise and fall; how ideas we now presuppose took many years and much struggle to gain traction; and why these ideas matter. Without such knowledge, students will take the heritage of their civilization for granted and be unable, or unwilling, to defend it.


According to Dr. Peter Wood, President of the National Association of Scholars:


“The editorial board of The Stanford Review has circulated a petition for a mandatory course on “the politics, history, philosophy, and culture of the Western world.” More than 370 students signed the petition, qualifying it to be voted on by the entire student body in April.

Nearby UC Berkeley offers courses on Western civilization, and even science-oriented Cal Tech does, too. But at Stanford, outside of a boutique liberal-arts program, no course like this is offered at all. Stanford’s curriculum used to have more spine.

In 1964, 15 of the 50 premier universities in America — including Stanford — required students to take a survey of Western civilization. All 50 offered the course, and nearly all of them (41) offered it as a way to satisfy some requirement.

But in the 1980s, minority students and faculty at Stanford asserted that requiring students to take the Western civ survey was implicitly racist. Jesse Jackson marched with an army of protesters chanting “Hey hey, ho ho, Western culture’s got to go.”

In 1988, away it went. Stanford then began requiring a course on a non-Western culture. By 2010, none of the 50 top universities required Western civilization, and 34 didn’t even offer the course.”


The petition, circulated efficiently and quietly, won the day and Western Civ, and America’s Heritage is back. Dr. Peter Wood is one of the good guys. And this time, the good guys won.





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“Pearl Harbor?…Who is She?”

Pearl Harbor Battleship Row

Pearl Harbor Battleship Row


By Bill Korach

Today, December 7, 2016, 75 years after the Japanese sneak attack on America’s Naval Base at Pearl Harbor, we recall that President Roosevelt called it “A date which will live in infamy.” Yet today it was reported in the Boston Globe that a veteran of the attack asked a high school girl if she knew about Pearl Harbor. Her reply: “Who is she?”


The NAEP Reports that 89% of American high school seniors are not proficient in American history. The girl’s vapid response to Navy veteran Robert Greenleaf illustrates that shocking fact. No wonder high school kids are burning the flag and embracing radical politics: they know nothing about our glorious history. For this writer, a former Navy officer and son in law of Navy Captain Walt Stencil, it’s personal. Walt was at Pearl, Officer of the Deck on the Battleship USS Tennessee. She was sunk but not before Captain Stencil and the crew fought back with all guns blazing. Walt went on to fight in 11 major battles in the Pacific including Iwo Jima, Saipan and Leyte Gulf. Forget Pearl Harbor? I’d sooner forget the colors of Old Glory.


For the record and for the sake of the ignorant youth poring out of our schools, here is the Globe story:


WESTFIELD — When Robert Greenleaf closes his eyes, he still sees the red circles painted on the wings of Japanese warplanes headed toward nearby Pearl Harbor.

He was 19 then, a gunner’s mate third class in the Navy. Suddenly, he was at war, frantically loading Browning .50-caliber machine guns.“When we saw the red meatballs on the wings,” he recalled, “we realized who they were.”

Greenleaf, now 94, is among a dwindling number of veterans who were on the Hawaiian island of Oahu on Dec. 7, 1941, when a Japanese surprise attack killed more than 2,400 people, and propelled the United States into World War II.


Now, 75 years later, the impact of that day — ingrained in the psyche of earlier generations — is softened by the passing decades and the more recent tragedy of Sept. 11, 2001.


“I asked a girl one day at the high school track what she knew about Pearl Harbor,” Greenleaf recalled, “and the girl said, ‘Who is she?’ ”

On Wednesday, remembrance ceremonies at Pearl Harbor will be the last time that survivors gather on a milestone anniversary of what President Franklin D. Roosevelt called “a date which will live in infamy.”

The number of living veterans of the Pearl Harbor attack is not known, according to the Pentagon and Navy.

But Lou Large, departing president of the Sons and Daughters of Pearl Harbor Survivors, said he had heard only 400 remain alive. Of that number, only dozens are expected at the ceremony, a Navy spokesman said.


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History is Becoming History in Public Schools

The more you know about the past, the better prepared you are for the future

The more you know about the past, the better prepared you are for the future

(Editor: More and more public schools are merging history with English language arts. As a result, history is taking a back seat to English language arts. Fewer and fewer students are learning about America’s heritage and how American government functions. What they do learn is often that American is a problem in the world and not an exceptional country. The words of Theodore Roosevelt are worth noting: “The more you know about the past, the better prepared you are for the future).”


by Dr. Gorman Lee External Resource, Houston, Texas

Many school districts have begun to merge social studies and English language arts departments into a Humanities department, where the social studies [including history] curriculum takes a secondary role to support the English language arts curriculum.


The Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education’s decision to indefinitely suspend the History and Social Science MCAS in 2009 has placed social studies education in a high risk of marginalization in K-12 public school districts across the Commonwealth. The problem has only exacerbated with increased emphases of English language arts and mathematics in the Common Core State Standards that was adopted in 2010. Therefore it comes to no surprise that once school districts have started to face budgetary constraints, social studies is now among the subject areas first on the chopping block…and it’s already happening.

There have been recent concerning reports of K-12 school districts reducing social studies departments in order to secure support to “high stakes” subject areas, despite the promised commitments to uphold civic ideals and to prepare students to become active and productive adult citizens as described in their mission statements. Many school districts have begun to merge social studies and English language arts departments into a Humanities department, where the social studies [including History] curriculum takes a secondary role to support the English language arts curriculum. In some schools, teachers whose primary subject area is other than social studies have been assigned to teach one social studies class; it now appears that “highly qualified” is no longer applicable when it comes to social studies. In some elementary schools, social studies [includes History] instruction has been reduced to no more than twenty minutes per week so that classes can spend more time for instructions in literature, mathematics, and science.


If we continue to allow social studies education become marginalized in our K-12 schools, our students will continue to graduate from high school with limited knowledge and understanding of their nation’s heritage, government, economy, and role in international affairs. The deterioration of a rigorous social studies curriculum will limit our students’ appreciation of community and national identity. The absence of a comprehensive K-12 social studies education will deny our students crucial learning opportunities to learn and apply higher-order critical thinking skills to address and find solutions to real world problems and issues.

Social studies educators must unite and let our elected representatives know that social studies education is facing a serious civic crisis. As President of the Massachusetts Council for the Social Studies, I am recommending that we coordinate a statewide Advocacy Day, where K-12 social studies educators schedule a meeting with their respective elected representatives at their local offices or at the Massachusetts State House in Boston.


If you are doing a special project with your students, I strongly encourage you to invite members of your school committee and your elected local representatives to your classroom and showcase what your students are learning in their social studies classes. It is our civic responsibility to express our collective concerns to our legislators and enlighten them on the importance and necessity to support and promote a strong K-12 social studies education in our public, charter, and private schools across the Commonwealth.

Please forward this letter to your colleagues and staff.


We need your help!


Gorman Lee, Ed.D.

Mass Council for the Social Studies President



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Support Florida SB 1018-Stop Rotten Textbooks


By Bill Korach

In 2014, Gov. Scott signed SB 864 into law. It was an excellent bill that took power away from Tallahassee educrats and placed it in the hands of local parents and citizens. It was supposed to:

  • Assign each school board the constitutional responsibility to select and provide adequate instructional materials.
  • Require each district to create a transparent review policy/process allowing parents to review instructional materials and raise objections if the material was not accurate or was objectionable.
  • Allow School districts to implement their own selection and purchase programs as an alternative to buying from the State approved lists.

Florida State Rep. Marlene O’Toole watered down the bill so local school boards could operate in secret. She continues to fight SB 1018 because she apparently favors the textbook companies. It is NO secret that there are many textbooks that are dishonest about American History, pornographic and have a pro-Islam, anti Christian bias. Keith Flaugh of Florida Citizens Alliance has provide some examples of rotten textbooks that are currently in the classroom:

At Gulf Coast High School in AP English, the syllabus requires the kids to read:

Angela’s Ashes, which includes alcoholism, marital infidelity, abandonment, promiscuity, and masturbation.

They are required to read the article “Shitty First Drafts”.

They read “Bullet in the Brain”, a story about a man’s last thoughts as a bullet enters his brain.

They also read “Body Rituals among the Nacirema” (Indians) which discusses sadism, masochism, defecating in front of others, obsessing about breast size, and customs concerning intercourse.

Here is an example of 6th grade summer school reading from Collier County. Warning: it contains foul language and pornography:

Beautiful Bastard, Author: Christina Lauren
“He leaned close enough to bite my shoulder, whispering, ‘You fucking tease.” Unable to get close enough, I quickened my pace on his zipper, shoving his pants and his boxers to the floor. I gave his cock a hard squeeze, feeling him pulse against my palm. He forced my skirt up my thighs and pushed me back on the conference table. Before I could utter a single word, he took hold of my ankles, grabbed his cock, and took a step forward, thrusting deep inside me. I couldn’t even be horrified by the loud moan I let out – he felt better than anything. ‘What’s that?’ he hissed through his clenched teeth, his hips slapping against my thighs, driving him deep inside. ‘Never been fucked like this before, have you? You wouldn’t be such a tease if you were being properly fucked.


Out of Many: Authors: Faragher, Buhle, Czitrom, Armitage   Publisher: Pearson Lee County

The book has 4 authors so we don’t know who wrote any of it. One author, Buhle, has a background showing extreme left bias. She authored “Women and American Socialism,” “Feminism and its Discontents, “ “A Century of Struggle with Psychoanalysis” and is the co-editor of the “Encyclopedia of the American Left.” Armitage also has that bias. They all seem to focus on the negative aspects of American history, class struggles, oppression and prejudice, rather than the hope, opportunity and justice of America.

This is confirmed by the review of this book in the College Board Web Site itself, which says, ‘Teachers considering the purchase of Out of Many should be aware that the book has become part of the textbook culture wars. Traditionalists who want democracy and free enterprise presented more favorably are bothered by what they see at left-leaning texts that pay too much attention to the dark side of American history. These individuals put Out of Many in this category.”

SB 1018, co sponsored by Sen. Gaetz will plug the loopholes and ensure that school district give parents the opportunity to vet textbooks before they are placed in front of out kids.



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Ayers Teaching About: “Producing More Trayvon Martins, More Rioters in the streets.”

Bill Ayers

Bill Ayers


(Editor: Domestic Terrorist Bill Ayers is one of the most influential educators at US teacher’s colleges. According to Dr. Mary Grabar, a former professor of English, the politically correct Race, Class, Gender approach to higher education and now K-12 education has been impacted by Ayers work. She points out that Ayers has authored Common Core testing and has worked closely with Secretary of Education Arne Duncan in funding programs that radicalize students. Understanding Bill Ayers is key to understand how education has become a quagmire of ignorance and radical thinking).


By Mark Tapson  Front Page


Mark Tapson: Tell us about your own experience as a professor surrounded by radical colleagues on campus.

Mary Grabar:That’s the subject of another book I published under the Dissident Prof imprint called Exiled: Stories from Conservative and Moderate Professors Who Have Been Ridiculed, Ostracized, Marginalized, Demonized, and Frozen Out. I was inspired to start Dissident Prof after I came out as a conservative in graduate school (actually the disdain for literature that I saw in graduate school compelled my conversion). I started writing about my experiences, and getting emails from others who were in similar positions—others who had not been able to get tenure track jobs but were schlepping around from campus to campus as I was, and teaching the labor intensive introductory courses for a pittance.

In my field, English, it’s about impossible to keep your political views to yourself because in order to be considered for any tenure-track position you are required to do scholarship that denies any value in the study of literature other than as a tool to root out racism, sexism, able-ism, species-ism, and all the other categories that follow the Marxist line. In the offices, hallways, mailrooms, and parties, you’re expected to take the party line when the topic turns to politics. So if someone is singing the praises of Hillary Clinton or Elizabeth Warren, your silence is taken as admission that you might be a Republican!

I’ve found myself suddenly without classes in an upcoming semester when one of my pieces of writing became known to a department chair or the college president. But it doesn’t seem that Bill Ayers or his Weatherman comrades had any trouble landing tenure-track jobs, does it?

I am fortunate. My last semester of teaching was in the spring of 2013, in the former privately-funded Program in American Citizenship and Democracy at Emory University.  I also taught at state universities and a community college. I am now a resident fellow at the Alexander Hamilton Institute for the Study of Western Civilization.

MT:What compelled you to write a book about Bill Ayers?


MG:Back in 2009 Ayers and his wife (“partner” as he prefers to call her) Bernardine Dohrn came out with a book called Race Course against White Supremacy and I wrote about it. I vaguely knew about Ayers’ past with the Weather Underground, but then started looking into what are taken to be his scholarly books. I saw that he was doing the same thing to K-12 education through colleges of education that was being done to higher education. I wrote a couple of reports on him for America’s Survival. It was at one of their conferences that I met the late Larry Grathwohl, who infiltrated the Weather Underground as an FBI informant. He confirmed for me what a despicable, cowardly person Ayers is.

I was reading news articles about Ayers’ talks at colleges and high schools and noticed that reporters never questioned his credentials. The line was always that Ayers went overboard in his youth protesting the Vietnam War but had settled down to a respectable career as an education professor. That line continues to this day. I flinched when Megyn Kelly kept referring to him as “professor” when she had him on her show on Fox News last year. And now Bryan Burrough, author of Days of Rage, continues this meme.

I want to show that although Ayers was a failed bomber, he was successful in helping to transform and destroy education. And he did it at taxpayers’ expense. He has trained hundreds of teachers. He worked closely with Obama and [U.S. Secretary of Education] Arne Duncan in Chicago in funding programs aimed at radicalizing students. One of his closest colleagues, Linda Darling-Hammond, was on Obama’s education transition team, and was in charge of developing one of the two Common Core tests. And Bill Ayers has appeared at conferences with Duncan and other officials in organizations that devised Common Core.

Education has always been the gateway for the smart and ambitious to get into the middle class. Ayers aims to destroy that opportunity, especially in the “urban schools,” which is what the University of Illinois at Chicago, where Ayers taught, specializes in.


MT:What are some of the ways in which his influence is felt in American schools?

MG:Bill Ayers likens a traditional school to prison because it requires students adhere to dress codes, schedules, and rules of discipline. But he has had captive audiences and has used his power as a professor to indoctrinate future teachers. His education philosophy is based on anarchism, progressivism, and Marxism. It’s all about radicalizing children in social justice lessons, and making them see themselves as victims of an evil capitalistic system.

It’s a toxic mixture, especially for the most vulnerable children who benefit the most from a traditional education, as studies show. His philosophy then filters down to practices and policies. Obama’s Justice Department order on racial quotas for school punishment parallels Ayers’ calls for eliminating discipline of inner-city students.

The last thing that Ayers and his fellow Marxists want is for inner city boys to become middle class husbands and fathers. What they are producing is more Trayvon Martins, more rioters in the streets of Baltimore. The black community should be outraged that these upper-class white radicals are using their children in this way.

Sadly, Ayers’ books are among the most widely used in education schools. Future teachers study them. He speaks at education conferences, and as I saw in 2013 at one major conference, is revered as a legitimate academic and mentor. But his speeches are nonsensical hashed-over ruminations of stoned-out hippie.

What Bill Ayers would have in the classroom extends the 1960s agenda of smashing monogamy, ending the bourgeois family and its values, destroying the work ethic, patriotism. So what we have is kids indoctrinated with lessons about the police—the 1960s narrative about the “pigs”—fatherless, rootless, joining gangs, and looting in the streets. It’s a Marxist’s dream come true. Those like Bill Ayers don’t have to do the dangerous work of setting bombs any more. They can watch the Crips and the Bloods unite against the police, as we’ve been seeing on the streets of Baltimore. They can watch from the comfort of their homes in nice gentrified neighborhoods, as they collect retirement checks and honoraria for speaking gigs.


MT:What can we do to push back against the influence of Ayers and his fellow radicals in education?

MG:I’m trying to make people aware. I’m trying to do it through Dissident Prof. After an almost two-year process, we won non-profit status from the IRS.

Good, decent Americans are appalled whenever Bill Ayers is invited to a campus to give a talk because of his lack of repentance about his terroristic past. But there are other reasons to oppose such visits as well, such as his use of the educational system to promote the same ideas he held as his group was setting bombs.

And we also have to consider who it is that is inviting him, the groups that have sprung up on campuses, such as Penn State’s Law and Education Alliance, and the Pennsylvania Equity Project. Both of these groups invited Ayers to speak in March. The fact that Ayers would be considered someone worthy of listening to in an academic setting shows how rotten education has become.

I want to raise awareness among citizen groups and political leaders. I want those like Bill O’Reilly and Megyn Kelly to know that Ayers and his comrades are academic frauds. It’s not a matter of censorship. It’s a matter of using our resources wisely so that colleges do not waste money on hosting Ayers or promoting his ideas.

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Newton MA Parents Fight Anti-Israel Pro-Hamas Bias in Schools

Americans for Peace and Tolerance

Americans for Peace and Tolerance


By Bill Korach


Newton, MA is an affluent suburb of Boston whose public schools have become increasingly radical. The teachings in Newton schools reflect the growing anti-Israel pro-Palestinian bias seen in faculty lounges and classrooms all across America. Newton parents have organized Americans for Peace and Tolerance (APT) to oppose what is nothing but pro-Hamas propaganda. APT has written the following report regarding recent activity in Newton Schools:

Students are given an assignment called POV, which purports to show the Israeli and Palestinian “points of view” on various events in the history of the conflict. Yet these points of view are often either blatantly or subtly anti-Israel.

Centuries of Islamic religious teaching that Jews are to be a subjugated people, not permitted self-rule, are erased from Newton’s “history” lessons. To ensure that students won’t see Judeophobia as a root cause of the conflict, they are given a doctored, whitewashed version of the Hamas Charter from which the terror group’s genocidal anti-Jewish pronouncements are removed so that the jihadist murderers can be falsely portrayed as mere militant nationalists.

Newton officials have sought to deflect accusations that they permit biased instruction by saying that it’s not anti-Israel but only an exercise in “critical thinking.” (“We don’t teach students what to think, but how to think,” Fleishman says.) Newton teachers’ class notes tell a different story. Just as with the cleansed Hamas Charter, one teacher insists that the Arab war against Israel “is not inherently a religious conflict. This is a conflict over land.” (Emphasis hers.) Many Middle East scholars would disagree, so why not let students decide for themselves? Newton students, the documents show, are made to debate whether the Jews have a right to a homeland of their own, but are never asked to ponder if any other people, such as the Palestinians themselves, deserve a state.

“Critical thinking” is increasingly being used throughout our nation to justify teaching hatred and the demonization of Jews. But is there a public school anywhere in America where students receive critical thinking lessons about Islamist honor killings, female genital mutilation, the enslavement and forced conversion of infidel women, or today’s forced exodus and slaughter of Christians from the Middle East? It’s doubtful. These topics are made taboo; they don’t fit the anti-Western, anti-Judeo- Christian narrative that permeates our schools. A week or so before we received the public records from Newton, 478 high school students from Newton signed a letter defending “the history department in the face of allegations by [APT] that Newton’s Middle East curriculum is anti-Israel.” It was published in The Jewish Advocate and The Newton Tab.

The materials released validate our claims that Newton South educates students to adopt anti-Israel viewpoints through the use of biased textbooks, readings, maps and pseudoacademic exercises. Until now, our knowledge of what Newton students are being taught was limited to what we received from students in only a few of classes. We now know that almost all the teachers in Newton South teach from the same problematic anti- Israel materials we saw previously.

The teachers’ class notes we received directly contradict Newton school officials’ claims that any anti- Israel materials are balanced by pro- Israel materials. For example, school administrators claimed that a series of assigned maps (created by a Palestine Liberation Organization propaganda unit, but never identified as such) were balanced by maps with a pro- Israel viewpoint. No such maps can be found. Several maps show Palestinian refugee dispersal and camp locations but there is no map showing the expulsion of Jews from Arab lands.

In one case, Newton students are given what they are told is the text of the Hamas founding charter. Yet the text they receive is a whitewashed edit of the Hamas charter, with the parts expressing the terror group’s religiously motivated genocidal hatred of Jews edited out. The Newton version of the Hamas Charter replaces the word “Jews,” whom Hamas identifies as its sworn enemies, with “Zionism.” A Newton teacher’s class notes obtained by APT shed light on why the schools might be using the censored Hamas Charter.

Several Newton teachers use a textbook written by James Gelvin, an anti-Israel ideologue and a pioneer of the academic boycott against Israel. Gelvin wrote the textbook while receiving payments from Sheikh Zayed, the anti-Semitic Emirates billionaire whose $2 million gift Boston’s Jewish heroine, Rachel Fish, forced Harvard University to reject because of the anti Semitism of his “think tank.”

One suspects, from both the language and content of the letter (posted on APT’s website) that it was not written by students alone. People can judge for themselves. Ironically, students who parrot their teachers are expressing an image opposite of the one young people like to present: that of cool, independentminded, even rebellious youth. How were they herded into a pack of 478 conformists? What happened to the courage to, in the words of their generation’s bumper sticker, “question authority?”

It takes no courage to whine about Israel – Jews won’t beat you up. Bravery today would be to stand up for black slaves in Sudan and Nigeria, abused and oppressed women under Islamic rule, Sharia-compliant hanging of gays. Sadly, the most these victims will likely get from today’s students (and our nation’s leaders) is hashtag activism.



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New Advanced Placement U.S. History: “A Consistently Negative View of Nation’s Past”

Mary Grabar, Ph.D U. S. History

Mary Grabar, Ph.D.

(Editor: Mary Grabar writing in “Heartlander Magazine” provides a critique of the College Board’s AP U.S. History Framework. The Report Card published a series of articles in January about the now notorious AP History Framework where nothing good is ever uttered about America. The College Board is now managed by David Coleman, author of Common Core, so it is clear to see the tack Coleman and Common Core are taking on their negative view of America’s heritage).

College Board dictates for the new Advanced Placement U.S. History exam have already garnered criticism. Jane Robbins and Larry Krieger charged that the new course of study “inculcates a consistently negative view of the nation’s past.” Units on colonial America stress “the development of a ‘rigid racial hierarchy’ and a ‘strong belief in British racial and cultural superiority.’” At the same time, the new Framework “ignores the United States’ founding principles and their influence in inspiring the spread of democracy and galvanizing the movement to abolish slavery.”

Advanced Placement (AP) teachers, of course, will need retraining for this; accordingly, Summer Institutes are being held across the country. I got a look at how teachers are pitched the new program at a session titled “Boundaries of Freedom: Teaching the Construction of Race and Slavery in the AP U.S. History Course” at the annual meeting of the Organization of American Historians (OAH), “the largest professional society dedicated to the teaching and study of American history,” in Atlanta this month. Identity politics and the assumption that conservatism is evil and backwards infused the conference. The AP session fit right into this year’s theme, “Crossing Borders,” highlighting the evils of the United States, in its past with slavery and segregation, and in its present in regards to “immigrants” (illegal aliens).


One of the AP panelists, Lawrence Charap, of the College Board, said that although there was no direct “coordination,” Common Core’s approach is being implemented in the AP and SAT exams by his boss, David Coleman, Common Core’s  architect and the new president of the College Board, which produces the AP and SAT exams. The new approach includes using the scholarly papers that one would find at this conference.

No More Facts, Ma’am
He told  high school teachers the new exams eliminate unnecessary memorization of facts and replace them with “historical thinking skills.” As examples of such irrelevant “facts,” Charap referred to Millard Fillmore and the Lend-Lease program.

The revisions to the exam began in 2006, at the request of college professors who said AP history tried to jam a college survey course, “a mile wide and an inch deep,” into a high school class, according to Charap. So the course has been redesigned to focus on skills, where students go in-depth and ask questions in an engaging way—traits AP shares with Common Core and the SAT. Accordingly, multiple-choice questions count for less of the score and have been reduced from 80 to 55, which Charap would like to reduce even further.

So what will replace facts about the thirteenth president or a controversial wartime program? Students will be tested for “skills,” in relating secondary (scholarly) sources back to the primary (historical) sources.

Dramatic Re-enactments
Such an exercise may sound good. But as I found out, it is a means by which teachers can impose their ideological views on students who do not yet have a foundation in history. The exercises showed that historically significant facts would be replaced with emotional exercises focused disproportionately on negative parts of American history. Two members of the AP development committee, UC-Irvine professor Jessica Millward and high school teacher James Sabathne, demonstrated how.


Millward said she brings her research on female slaves and their children in the Chesapeake Bay area of Maryland into the classroom. She claimed her students use “critical thinking skills” and focus on concepts, like “freedom” and “bondage.” Millward also recognizes students don’t do the assigned reading, so she breaks them into groups and has them read assignments on the spot. The exercises include a visual timeline and scenarios in which students imagine a way to “resist and rebel” against, for example, the whipping of a six-month pregnant slave face down, her belly in a hole (to protect the future “property”). Millward then play-acts the slave owner. She praised the new “interactive exam” for allowing the freedom to recreate such experiences. She offered a list of online resources, such as the University of North Carolina’s Documenting the American South, the African American Mosaic, and Depression-era Works Progress Administration interviews at the Library of Congress, as well as secondary sources, including her article, “‘That All Her Increase Shall Be Free’: Enslaved Women’s Bodies and the 1809 Maryland Law of Manumission” in Women’s History Review. No one can deny her contention that slavery involves “heartbreak,” but she seems intent on exploiting it.

After one teacher in the audience noted that the U.S.’s share of slave trade was only 5 percent, the panelists suggested that that fact and the one that some blacks owned slaves should be downplayed to students. Clearly, the aim is to give high school students a limited, emotional perspective of white-on-black racism, instead of the larger historical one.

Racist White People
The next panelist, James Sabanthe, who teaches at Hononegah High School in Rockton, Illinois, heralded the new focus on “historical interpretations.” It became apparent from his, Millward’s and other teachers’ comments that although high school students are treated as adults who “think like historians,” they do not do the reading that real historians do. Because students do not read all 20 to 30 pages of a typical scholarly article, Sabanthe distributes excerpts among groups of students. As an example of an exercise, students would be asked to use their “historical thinking skills” to demonstrate change while comparing revolutions in France, Russia, and China, a conversation launched by asking students about prior knowledge of labor systems, Indians, servants, and racism.

For the unit on slavery, Sabanthe provided hand-outs, with sample readings. Half of his groups would tackle excerpts from Edmund S. Morgan’s “Slavery and Freedom: The American Paradox,” in The Journal of American History (June 1972), and Kathleen M. Brown’s Good Wives, Nasty Wenches, & Anxious Patriarchs: Gender, Race, and Power in Colonial Virginia (1996). The other half would read excerpts from Many Thousands Gone: The First Two Centuries of Slavery in North America (1998) by Ira Berlin, former president of OAH, and How Race Survived US History: From Settlement and Slavery to the Obama Phenomenon (2008) by David Roediger, who writes from a Marxist perspective. These groups would make “t charts” and Venn diagrams, and discuss similarities and differences between the excerpts.

But upon reading Sabanthe’s hand-out, it became clear the excerpts do not stand alone. Sometime surnames pop up, with prior references obviously in an omitted section. His assignment, to annotate the primary document, “’Decisions of the General Court’ regarding William Pierce’s Plantation, Virginia, 1640,” and relate it to Brown’s feminist tract, is bewildering. Students would need considerable direction. Instead of the full narrative of a textbook, history book, or full article that they could digest for themselves, students turn to their teacher for direction. Of course, this leaves wide open opportunities.

Trauma—From Whom?
This activity, according to the hand-out, fulfilled AP U.S. History Curriculum Framework, 2014, “Key Concepts,” pages 35-39, which focused on the especially racist qualities of the British system, for example: “Unlike Spanish, French, and Dutch colonies, which accepted intermarriage and cross-racial sexual unions with native peoples . . . , English colonies attracted both males and females who rarely intermarried with either native peoples or Africans, leading to the development of a rigid racial hierarchy” and “Reinforced by a strong belief in British racial and cultural superiority, the British system enslaved black people in perpetuity, altered African gender and kinship relationships in the colonies. . . . .”

With all the attention on abuses of slavery, it’s no wonder that one of the teachers, who teaches in an Orthodox Jewish school, wondered how she should handle the only black student in her class. In response, Millward acknowledged that these topics bring up anger and white guilt. “I believe in educational affirmative action,” she said and suggested removing the black student from the class discussion to avoid “trauma.”

Quite obviously, the “trauma” is a problem of the teachers’ own making—now to be reinforced by the College Board.

The new AP exams, like Common Core, presumably are inspired by what “engages” students. From what I heard at this and other panels, the revisions come from what engages, and profits, teachers developing the exams.

Although Sabathne said he is getting away from textbooks, he also said he has been working with Charap and publishers on new AP-aligned history books and guides. Sabathne encouraged teachers to sign up for his upcoming week-long AP session in St. Petersburg. The huge publisher Bedford-St. Martins has been working with the College Board on new books and was a “platinum” (highest level) sponsor of the conference. Norton Publishing (silver sponsor) is also coming out with new books. Charap optimistically said that in three years there should be a good bank of materials to prepare students for the new AP exam.

No doubt there will be, at the expense of taxpayers who subsidize the indoctrination.

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Dumbed Down SAT Will Align With Common Core to Achieve “Social Justice”

Dr. Peter Wood, President National Association of Scholars

Dr. Peter Wood, President National Association of Scholars


By Dr. Peter Wood, President of the National Association of Scholars

The College Board is reformulating the SAT.  Again.

The new changes, like others that have been instituted since the mid 1990s, are driven by politics.  David Coleman, head of the College Board, is also the chief architect of the Common Core K-12 State Standards, which are now mired in controversy across the country.  Coleman’s initiative in revising the SAT should be seen first of all as a rescue mission.  As the Common Core flounders, he is throwing it an SAT life preserver.  I’ll explain, but first let’s get the essentials of how the SAT is about to change.



The essay is now optional, ending a decade-long experiment in awarding points for sloppy writing graded by mindless formulae.

The parts of the test that explored the range and richness of a student’s vocabulary have been etiolated. The test now will look for evidence that students are familiar with academic buzzwords and jargon.  The College Board calls this “Relevant Words in Context.”  Test-takers won’t have to “memorize obscure words” but instead “will be asked to interpret the meaning of words based on the context of the passage in which they appear.”

The deductions for guessing wrong are gone.  Literally, there will be no harm in guessing.

Math will narrow to linear equations, functions, and proportions.

The scale on which scores are recorded will revert to the old 800 each on two sections, from the current 2,400 on three sections.  (Goodbye essay points.)

The old verbal section will be replaced by “evidence-based reading and writing.”

All the tests will include snippets from America’s Founding Documents.


What They Mean

The College Board’s announcement of these changes came under the headline “Delivering Opportunity:  Redesigning the SAT Is Just One Step.”  The “delivering opportunity” theme is divided into three parts:

Ensure that students are propelled forward.

Provide free test preparation for the world.

Promote excellent classroom work and support students who are behind.

There is a thicket of explanation behind each of these headings, some of it beyond silly.  We learn, for example, that the College Board, “cannot stand by while students’ futures remain unclaimed.”  Unclaimed?  Like lottery prizes?  Like coats left in a checkroom?

If you work your way through this folderol, it appears that the College Board is launching a whole battery of new diversity programs.   “Access to Opportunity (“A2O”) pushes (“propels”) low-income, first-generation, underrepresented students to college.  The “All In Campaign” aims “to ensure to ensure that every African American, Latino, and Native American student who is ready for rigorous work takes an AP course or another advanced course.”  Another program offers college application fee waivers.

Those initiatives bear on the redesigned SAT mainly as evidence of the College Board’s preoccupation with its ideas about social justice.  The announcement of the changes in the SAT itself is succinct—and friendly, with helpful icons to get across ideas like “documents.”

The redesigned SAT will focus on the knowledge and skills that current research shows are most essential for college and career readiness and success. The exam will reflect the best of classroom work:

  • Relevant words in context
  • Command of evidence
  • Essay analyzing a source
  • Math focused on three key areas
  • Problems grounded in real-world contexts
  • Analysis in science and social studies
  • Founding documents and great global conversation
  • No penalty for wrong answers”

The student who comes across the College Board’s explanation—and maybe even the journalist who reads it—might miss the full weight of that key phrase “college and career readiness.”  That’s the smoking gun that what is really happening in the College Board’s revision of the SAT is that the test is being wrenched into alignment with the Common Core.  That phrase, “college and career readiness,” is the Common Core mantra.  The Common Core was vigorously promoted to the states and to the public as something that would “raise standards” in the schools by creating a nationwide framework that would lead students to “college readiness.”

But alas, as the Common Core Standards emerged, it became apparent that they set a ceiling on the academic preparation of most students.  Students who go through schools that follow the Common Core Standards will be ill-prepared for the rigors of college That is, unless something can be done on the other end to ensure that colleges lower their standards.  Then everything will be well.

The Bind

None of this might matter if the Common Core were just a baseline and students and schools could easily move above it if they wished to.  The trouble is that the Common Core has been designed to be a sticky baseline.  It is hard for schools to rise above it.  There are two reasons for that.

First, it uses up most of the time in a K-12 curriculum, leaving little room for anything else.

Second, the states that were leveraged into it via Obama’s “Race to the Top” agreed that students who graduate from high school with a Common Core education and are admitted to public colleges and universities will automatically be entered into “credit-bearing courses.”  This is tricky.  Essentially what it means is that public colleges will have to adjust their curricula down to the level of knowledge and skill that the Common Core mandates.  And that in turn means that most schools will have little reason to offer anything beyond the Common Core, even if they can. 

In this way, the Common Core floor becomes very much a ceiling too.  The changes in the SAT are meant to expedite this transition.


The Common Core Connection

The life-preserver that the College Board is throwing to the Common Core is a redefinition of what it means to be “college ready.” The SAT after all is a test aimed at determining who is ready for college. An SAT refurbished to match what the Common Core actually teaches instead of what colleges expect freshmen to know will go far to quiet worries that the Common Core is selling students short.  If the SAT says a student is “college ready,” who is to say that he is not?

The new changes in the SAT are meant first to skate around the looming problem that students educated within the framework of the Common Core would almost certainly see their performance on the old SAT plummet compared to students educated in pre-Common Core curricula.

The subject can get complicated, so it is best to consider an example.


Perhaps the most vivid example of how the Common Core lowers standards and creates a situation which invites mischief with the SATs is the decision of the Common Core architects to defer teaching algebra to 9th grade.  That move, along with several other pieces of the Common Core’s Mathematics Standards, generally means that students in high school will not reach the level of “pre-calculus.”  And that in turn means that as college freshmen, they will be at least a year behind where college freshmen used to be.  Instead of starting in with a freshman calculus course, they will have to start with complex numbers, trigonometric functions, conic sections, parametric equations, and the like.

Of course, lots of students who go to college today never take a calculus course and are in no way hindered if their high school math preparation stopped with binomial equations.   The trouble comes with students who wish to pursue science, technology, or engineering—the “STEM” fields.  College curricula generally assume that students who set out to study these fields have already reached the level of calculus.

One might think that students who have aptitudes and interests in these areas could simply leapfrog the Common Core by taking accelerated math courses in high school.  Some indeed will be able to do just that.  They will be students who attend prosperous schools that have the resources to work around the Common Core.  Or they will be students whose parents pay for tutors or courses outside school.

We can be confident that Americans will be ingenious in finding ways to circumnavigate this new roadblock.  And we can count on the emergence of entrepreneurs who will serve the market for extra-curricular math instruction.  There is no reason to think that MIT and Caltech will go begging for suitably prepared students.

But there is reason to worry that a large percentage of bright and capable students in ordinary American schools are going to be shortchanged in math. 

And while I have chosen math as the example, the Common Core is up to similar mischief in English, and the SAT is being similarly altered to match the diminished K-12 curriculum there too.  Those who have followed the debate on the Common Core will have some idea of how this works out.  The Common Core prizes “informational texts” above literature, and it prizes teaching students how to treat documents as “evidence” above teaching students how to search out the deeper meaning in what they read.  The Common Core approaches reading and writing in a utilitarian spirit.  Clearly this has some power.  It fosters certain kinds of analytic skills—those that might be called forensic.  But it scants the cultivation of other aspects of reading and writing, especially those that depend on analogy, implication, and aesthetic sense. 

That’s why the Common Core has such limited use for imaginative literature and why it so readily turns to out-of-context excerpts and uprooted fragments.  Information is information; it does not much depend on a sense of the whole; nor does it depend on gathering in the unsaid background.  The now infamous example of the Common Core’s deracinated approach to writing is a reading of the Gettysburg Address shorn of any explanation that it was a speech commemorating a battlefield, let alone the battlefield of the decisive battle in the Civil War.

Presumably the Common Core folks will repair this particular mistake, but it is telling that it happened in the first place.  And it is telling that the College Board has adopted all the same conceptual devices in the new SAT:  relevant words in context, command of evidence, analyzing sources, and using fragments and excerpts of historical documents.  None of these by itself should raise concern.  Each is a legitimate line for testing.  But note that they come unaccompanied by anything that would balance the focus on “evidence-based” inquiry with examination of other skills.


A Puzzle

Why should a grandly announced effort to raise school standards end up lowering them instead?  The answer lies in the convergence of several political forces.  Politicians see a can’t-lose proposition in the conceit that everyone should have the opportunity to go to college.  School standards that really separated the wheat from the chaff would be unpopular.  Americans today like the pretense that the only thing that holds us back is external circumstance, not natural limitation.  And the academic “achievement gap” between Asians and whites on one hand and blacks and Hispanics on the other has made forthright discussion of standards extremely difficult.

For all these reasons, we Americans were in the market for a new brand of educational snake oil and the Common Core provided it.  Politicians on both sides of the aisle lined up to buy franchises: Obama on the left, Jeb Bush on the right, and many more.

Now that the charm has worn off, the politicians have become hotly defensive about their support for Common Core.  This isn’t the place to delve into their excuses and recriminations, but it is important to remember that that rancor is the backdrop to the College Board’s decision to change the SAT.  Again.

SAT Down

My account of what lies behind the changes differs quite a bit from what The New York Times reported. The Times story emphasized Coleman’s heroic decision to take on the test preparation industry, which profits by exploiting the anxieties of students over how they will perform on the SAT.  Test preparation can be expensive and thus wealthier families have an edge.  According to the Times, Coleman declared, “It is time for the College Board to say in a clearer voice that the culture and practice of costly test preparation that has arisen around admissions exams drives the perception of inequality and injustice in our country.”

How exactly the changes in the SAT will combat that “culture and practice” is unclear.  The test preparation industry itself seemed to shrug at Coleman’s oration.  The Times quotes a vice president for Kaplan Test Prep saying that “Test changes always spur demand.”

Coleman is far from the first to rejigger the SAT to advance a notion of equality and justice.  The SAT was invented in 1926 to open the doors to college for students who were natively smart but came from unpromising backgrounds.  Over the decades it became a primary tool for college admissions officers to match potential students with the level off rigor embodied in a college’s curriculum.  The goal was to find students who in all likelihood would succeed.

That began to change with the push for racial preferences in college admissions in the 1970s and 1980s.  As colleges and universities more and more foregrounded the goal of “diversity” in admissions, the SAT began to look like an embarrassing artifact of an earlier time.  It stood for established standards and evidence of intellectual reach at a time when it had become much more useful to emphasize “evolving” definitions of excellence and achievement.  The new approaches emphasized cultural variety in how people think and what they think about, and the greater relevance to college work of “personal perspective” and viewpoint over mere knowledge.  Likewise “experience” began to seem as valuable in a college applicant as intellectual skill.

The first real fruit of these new concerns was the “re-centering” of the SAT’s scoring system in the 1990s, which ballooned the scores of mediocre students and erased the differences among students at the higher end of the scale.  Then, among other changes, came the elimination in 2002 of the verbal analogies portion of the tests, which jettisoned a section for the explicit reason that black students on average performed less well on it than they did on other sections.  That same year the College Board removed the “asterisk” that indicated that a student had taken the test with special accommodations such as extra time.

So the attempt to use the SAT as an instrument to advance “social justice” is, in a sense, more of the same.  We can expect most colleges and universities to welcome Coleman’s changes in that spirit.  But there are always costs, and sooner or later we will pay them.  We are embarking on a great expansion of the left’s long-term project of trading off our best chances to foster individual excellence for broadly-distributed access to mediocre education.



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College Board Stung by Report Card Series on AP U.S. History Reacts



(Editor: Mr. Larry Krieger, an AP History instructor, wrote a series for The Report Card on the College Board’s new, and sadly deficient Advanced Placement History Framework. The College Board, publishers of the SAT exam, is now presided over by David Coleman, author of the Common Core Standards. The College Board VP, Trevor Packer, who has never taught a high school course, took issue with Mr. Krieger. Here is Mr. Packer’s response:


Mr. Krieger noting inaccuracies in Mr. Packer’s response, replies here).


By Mr. Larry Krieger


I welcome Mr. Packer’s response to our analysis of the College Board’s redesigned AP US History Framework. Our goal is to spark a constructive dialogue that will prompt the College Board to address problems in the redesigned Framework.


It is important to note that the new AP US History Framework was published shortly after Mr. Coleman was chosen to become the President of the College Board. This gives Mr. Coleman an opportunity to objectively evaluate the document and provide much needed leadership in reaching out to parents, teachers, administrators and students who recognize that the redesigned Framework is a seriously flawed document that can and should be improved.


It is also important to address Mr. Packer’s closing statement about my alleged “test-prep” mentality. The AP prep books that I wrote do not reflect my personal philosophy of history. Instead, they reflect the realities of the AP US History test as revealed in a number of released tests. For the record, I personally favor a dynamic approach to American history that uses compelling stories to dramatize the achievements of exemplary leaders.


Mr. Packer provides a very selective response to my analysis of the new APUSH Framework. He begins by denying that “key figures in American history have been sidelined.” Unfortunately, facts are stubborn things. Here is a list of key figures noted in my analysis that have been completely omitted in the redesigned Framework: Roger Williams, Benjamin Franklin, James Madison, Thomas Jefferson, Andrew Jackson, Dorothea Dix, William Lloyd Garrison, Henry Clay, Lucretia Mott, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, W.E.B. Du Bois, Jacob Riis, Jane Addams, Theodore Roosevelt, Lost Generation authors (Fitzgerald, Hemingway, Lewis,  and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Mr. Packer erroneously claims that “most of the dozens of topics or individuals that Krieger finds ‘missing’ from the Framework, such as Sinclair Lewis, Dorothea Dix, or the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, have never been called out or specified in any document released by the College Board.” In fact, all of the omitted people and events listed above and in my analysis have generated numerous questions on released AP US History exams. For the record, the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution is one of the most frequently tested APUSH items. We believe that

instead of resisting an obvious and needed constructive suggestion, Mr. Packer should agree that these egregious omissions need to be rectified.


The omissions detailed in my analysis cannot be covered up by claiming that the College Board grants teachers the flexibility “to select which figures to focus on in-depth.” In reality, the College Board’s website clearly and unequivocally states, “The curriculum framework describes required content in a concept outline…On the revised exam, all questions are derived from the course’s stated learning objectives.” Although teachers do have the flexibility to teach in-depth units, the AP exam their students will take will in fact be exclusively focused on the content specified in the Framework.


Mr. Packer then provides a table providing a complete list of 15 required documents. We applaud the College Board for attempting to enrich the redesigned Framework with key historic documents. However, we believe that the current list omits many seminal documents and entirely ignores the commitment of many states to enrich America’s story with works of literature. Omitted works that should be added include Winthrop’s” City on a Hill” sermon, Jefferson’s First Inaugural Address, Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, excerpts from de Tocqueville’s Democracy in America, Turner’s essay on “The Significance of the Frontier in American History,” excerpts from Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath, excerpts from Dr. King’s writings, and Barbara Jordan’s speech on the constitution before the House Judiciary Committee during the Nixon impeachment hearings.


After discussing his table of key historic documents, Mr. Packer misrepresents my point about the Framework’s omission of military history. I do not believe that the Framework should list “all possible battles in every US war.” In fact my analysis only noted the omission of Valley Forge, Saratoga, Yorktown, Midway, and D-Day because these battles are typically included in most state frameworks. Mr. Packer fails to address my key point that the College Board Framework does not note the heroism and sacrifices of American servicemen and women.


Mr. Packer then turns to my analysis of the Framework’s decision to devote 5 percent of the AP Course to the period from 1491 to 1607. He incorrectly calculates that 5 percent of a 180 day course would equate to just one week of class time. Mr. Packer then erroneously claims that “AP Exams have long included questions on this period and topic.” In fact, the released 2001, 2006, 2008, and 2012 APUSH exams contain a total of 320 multiple-choice questions none of which asked students to recall any information contained in the Framework’s unit on the period from 1491 to 1607. As noted in my analysis, the real problem is that the Framework uses this introductory unit to establish its key theme that European exploitation led to native decline and black bondage. This negative view of American history then becomes the dominant theme in the Framework.


My analysis of the redesigned APUSH Framework carefully explains and documents that new curriculum’s biases and negative depiction of American history. Mr. Packer charges that “Krieger disparages the type of nuanced language used by historians in assessing complex events.” He further asserts that “college professors endorse the curriculum framework’s careful and balanced treatment of American history.” Rather than repeat what I have

already documented,  let me provide a sample of direct quotes from the Framework. I invite readers to evaluate if these Framework assertions are in fact “careful and balanced.” I also ask readers if this is what they want their children to learn about American history.


.        “Many Europeans developed a belief in white superiority to justify

         their subjugation of Africans and American Indians, using several

         different rationales.” (Page 25)

.        “Unlike Spanish, French, and Dutch colonies, which accepted

         intermarriage and cross-racial sexual unions with native peoples, English

         colonies attracted both males and females who rarely intermarried with

         either native peoples or Africans, leading to the development of a rigid

         racial hierarchy.” (Page 27)

.        “Reinforced by a strong belief in British racial and cultural superiority,

         the British system enslaved black people in perpetuity, altered African

         gender and kinship relationships in the colonies, and was one factor that

         led the British colonists into violent confrontations with native peoples.”

         (Page 28)

.        “The idea of Manifest Destiny, which asserted U.S. power in the Western

         Hemisphere and supported U.S. expansion westward, was built on a

         belief in white racial superiority and a sense of American cultural

         superiority, and helped to shape the era’s political debates.” (Page 44)

.        “Wartime experiences, such as the internment of Japanese Americans,

         challenges to civil liberties, debates over race and segregation, and the

         decision to drop the atomic bomb raised questions about American

         values.” (Page 59)


In our op-ed piece published by School Reform News, Ms. Robbins and I warn parents and educators that the redesigned APUSH Framework is in fact a “curricular coup” that defines, discusses, and interprets what the Framework forthrightly asserts is “the required knowledge of each period.” Ms. Robbins and I alert parents and school officials that “the College Board has in effect supplanted local and state curriculum by unilaterally assuming the authority to prioritize historic topics. This inevitably means that some topics will be magnified in importance while others will be minimized or even omitted.”


Mr. Packer denies that the redesigned APUSH Framework is “part of a CB ‘takeover’ of history education.” He then claims that the College Board followed “the same process that has been followed for 60 years.” While the College Board may or may not have followed “the same process” it has always used, the finished product is in fact unprecedented. The existing APUSH 5-page topical outline, has been replaced by a 98-page document that it longer and more detailed than any existing state-approved US History framework.

This is not “business as usual;” rather it is an imposition of a curriculum and

biased interpretation of American history upon the states and local school districts.


Mr. Packer’s defense of the redesigned APUSH Framework fails to fully and forthrightly address the document’s biased coverage, poor organization, negative tone and failure to provide teachers with a full set of test items. Ms. Robbins and I urge Mr. Coleman to carefully scrutinize the new APUSH Framework. He has the opportunity to restore a balanced study of American history that respects state curriculum standards and gives our best students a true picture of their country’s past.





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Report to Veterans on the State of U.S. Education: A Preview

Dr. Peter Wood, President  National Association of Scholars

Dr. Peter Wood, President National Association of Scholars

(Editor: The highly respected National Association of Scholars is preparing the report to alert veterans that the liberty and principles they fought for is being expunged from school curricula everywhere in America. We are alarmed that American exceptionalism is no longer taught. We are deeply concerned that the NAEP only considers 12% of high school seniors proficient in history. Most of all we are concerned that students are being instructed that America is the source of much trouble and oppression in the world and not a beacon of liberty and justice. If the next generation accepts this teaching, then there will be little reason for them to support and defend America or the Constitution. The ramifications of this eventuality are frightening to contemplate. We believe that veterans have paid a great price so America can remain the land of liberty. We believe that they should have a voice in reforming education. Dr. Peter Wood is preparing a report for publication within the next 90 days, and The Report Card is pleased to publish a summary of that report).

A Report to Veterans: Schools No Longer Teach American Exceptionalism or America’s Sacrifice in Battle for Liberty and Human Rights

By Peter Woods, President National Association of Scholars 

Executive Summary

  • A popular high school history book author said: “The world would have been better off if America never existed”
  • A People’s History of the United States, among the most popular history book in American High Schools, states that 9/11 was America’s fault because of our Mideast policies
  • A Florida history fair describe Nazi and Japanese soldiers as brave and loyal, while the American army was racist
  • The new College Board Advanced Placement Framework omits mention of 90% of America’s major battles and provides virtually no rationale for the reasons why America fought WW1, WW11, Korea or Vietnam.
  • Citizens for National Security issued a report that 26 textbooks in Florida were biased in favor or Islam
  • The National Association of Scholars studies show college level history is race, class and gender focused

Field Marshal Bernard Law Montgomery, Commander of the victorious 8th Army in North Africa and Commander of ground forces at D-Day became post war commander in Germany. He realized he needed to change German education to rid that country of Nazi ideology:

“New school books must be printed which were not tainted by Nazi ideologies, and all Nazi teaching and idea must be eradicated from educational establishments…that matter must be tackled energetically.”

It’s hard for America veterans to understand the extent to which American schools have re-written history to depict America as the cause of trouble in the world, and not the citadel of liberty as was once taught. In the words of Montgomery, this is an issue that must be “tackled energetically.”

A “valediction” is a farewell speech.  One of the most famous in American history was General Douglas MacArthur’s address to Congress, April 19, 1951, after President Truman fired him as commander of the U.S. forces in the Korean War.  MacArthur quoted a sentimental World War I ballad, “Old soldier never die; they just fade away.”

In truth, MacArthur improved on the original, where the second part is, “They always fade away.”   Fading away is a choice, and seldom the best one.  But it was a good exit line for MacArthur.

The valedictions that we hear most often these days are commencement speeches by students graduating from high school and college.  Often these “valedictorians” mistake the occasion, and instead of saying farewell to the chapter in their lives that is closing, they gush about the bright prospects that lie ahead.  They expect to change the world.  And they think it will be easy.

We can only smile at their eagerness.  They’ll learn soon enough.

The trouble is that the valedictorians at the top of their classes are seldom much better informed about the real world than the sluggards who slept through history and social studies.  That’s because our schools (and our colleges too) have been recklessly ignoring some of the most important things students should know, and even more recklessly teaching some things that aren’t true.  To paraphrase General MacArthur: old history doesn’t die, but it sure enough fades away.  The contemporary history curriculum involves a lot of fading.

Two years ago one of my sister organizations that is concerned with higher education did a survey of how much American history students graduating from top American colleges and universities actually know.  You may remember some of the eyebrow-raising results.  Ninety-six percent could identify Lady Gaga; 17 percent could correctly identify the Emancipation Proclamation.[1]

Those aren’t figures pulled out of context.  The survey focused on simple questions and gave easy multiple-choice options.  Who was the American general at Yorktown?  Fewer than half picked George Washington.  Who was the father of the U.S. Constitution?  Only one in five picked James Madison.

Surveys can be good wake-up calls, but to really understand something, you usually have to go deeper.  That’s what my organization, the National Association of Scholars, does.  We’ve been diving deep into how colleges teach history.  Why colleges and not grade schools and high schools?  Because grade school and high school teachers learned what they know in college, and the textbooks they use are written by college professors.  College is the key.

In a study we published three years ago, The Vanishing West, we documented the near disappearance of Western history survey courses. Back in 1963, almost all college students were required to take these introductory surveys.  By 1990, they had been reduced to electives, and by 2010, they were gone altogether except for a straggler or two.  Does it matter?

That depends.  If you think that the origins of democracy and self-governance in ancient Greece don’t matter, then you can probably skip learning about how the city states combined to fight off Xerxes’ Persian army.  If you think the extension of law and commerce over most of the Mediterranean and Europe doesn’t matter, you can also skip the rise of the Roman Empire.  The Middle Ages, the Renaissance, the Enlightenment, and so on, might be banished too, since all-in-all, that “history” is only about what “rich dead white males” did to each other.

The disappearance of Western history survey courses was just one step in reshaping what college students know and don’t know about the past.  Another step has come in the narrowing of the history that is actually taught.  The NAS did another study published last year, Recasting History, which looked at all the history courses for freshmen at the flagship public universities in Texas.  We found that 78 percent of the assigned readings in these courses at the University of Texas focused on race, class, and gender. Whole divisions of history were ignored altogether. Economic, military, and scientific history were nowhere to be found, and other divisions such as political and diplomatic history were treated solely through the lens of race, class, and gender.

Our report prompted outrage among academic historians.  No, no outrage that students were being shortchanged and the country ill-served.  The outrage was that the National Association of Scholars had called into question a widespread practice that the majority of university historians approve.  Emphasizing race, class, and gender as the key to American history is now the norm.  We were seen as calling for the return of the bad old days when minorities and women were given scant attention and American history was all about glorifying the wealthy and the powerful.

Let’s take that off the table right now.  My colleagues and I favor accurate history.  That means history that gets the facts right.  We favor comprehensive history. That’s history that doesn’t leave out essential events.  And finally, we favor connected history.  That’s history that puts important events in context with each other and with what came before and after.  There is plenty of room in accurate, comprehensive, and connected history to present the history of race, class, and gender in America.  But those topics need to be seen as part of a larger whole.

The NAS did one more study that says even more about how history is taught in college.  Last year we released What Does Bowdoin Teach?  which is an in-depth study of an elite liberal arts college in Maine.  We wanted to see how a college with high admissions standards and a sterling reputation actually goes about its work.  When it came to history, however, we were astonished.  Bowdoin students are not required to take any history.  History majors are required to take at least two courses in non-Western history, but no courses in American history.  The history department, like its counterparts in Texas, is top-heavy with courses on race, class, and gender, but has nothing to say about the American Founding.  Military history is scant.  The one course that deals with World War II was titled “Women on the Home Front.”  After we drew attention to it, Bowdoin renamed it, “The United States Home Front in World War II.”  It deals with “government documents and propaganda, films, memoirs, fiction, and advertising [and] investigates how the war shaped and reshaped sexuality, family dynamics, and gender roles; race and ethnic relations; labor conflicts; social reform, civil rights, and citizenship; and popular culture.”

The Vanishing West, Recasting History, and What Does Bowdoin Teach? by no means exhaust the subject of what is going wrong in the teaching of American history in college.  We’ve been shining our light on other questionable practices as well.  An increasingly popular idea on campus, for example, is to urge students to think of themselves as “citizens of the world” rather than American citizens.  A new form of “civics education” has emerged that emphasizes multiculturalism and diversity but is stone silent on America’s institutions of self-government, including elections and juries.  And we’ve paid special attention to the adoption in numerous history courses of the book A People’s History of the United States, by the late Marxist agitator, Howard Zinn.  The popularity of Zinn’s book—rife with inaccuracies and invective— is a barometer of the intellectual ill-health of the academy.

And when the academy sneezes, K-12 education gets a cold.

That cold has a name:  The Common Core K-12 State Standards, which will bring to grade schools and high schools much of the disdain for America that is now a settled attitude in the colleges.  But I’ll leave that for another day.

It’s time for my valediction for this essay.  I am concerned that the ideas and commitments that have made America a great nation are eroding away at the base. Freedom, as Ronald Reagan said, “is never more than one generation from extinction.” When we leave the coming generation bereft of any real idea of the American past, we are risking our freedom.  Who will defend something he never met and does not understand?  And, of course, it not merely that we aren’t teaching accurate, comprehensive, and connected American history. Rather, we teaching a kind of anti-history aimed at emphasizing injustices, resentments, divisions, and loyalties to sub-groups.  It’s a toxic combination.

These are matter in which American veterans could play a constructive role.  Those who have sacrificed for their country understand what is at stake better than most. We need their voices now more than ever.  It is no time to fade away.

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