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National Association of Scholars: American History as It Should Be Taught

Dr. Peter Wood President National Association of Scholars

Dr. Peter Wood President
National Association of Scholars

 

(Editor: www.thereportcard.org Many prominent scholars, Dr. Peter Woods included have spoken out against the new College Board AP US History framework (APUSH) because it questions the concept of American Exceptionalism, and drops many significant events that have stood as important milestones in earlier American history courses. APUSH views American history through the lens of a leftish globalism that sees America as the problem in the world and not the solution. Dr. Peter Wood, President of the National Association of Scholars, a conservative think tank, and his colleague Glenn Ricketts offers an important perspective on what should be taught in advanced placement American history classes. At the conclusion of the article there are a series of questions that every student of American history ought to be able to answer).

 

 

By Dr. Peter Wood, and Glenn Ricketts, National Association of Scholars

The National Council for History Education (NCHE) defends the new Advanced Placement U.S. History Standards (APUSH) by saying that they successfully focus on “historical thinking skills” such as “arguing from evidence,” rather than acquiring “a specific body of information.” NCHE admits that “historical thinking requires that students have some history to think about,” but dismisses critics of APUSH who say that APUSH’s view of American history is highly politicized. NCHE argues that APUSH leaves the high school teachers “considerable latitude” to decide what content to include.

Those who are critical of APUSH might benefit from a short statement of what should be included in an Advanced Placement U.S. History course.   To that end, we offer a brief periodization mentioning some of the key topics, followed by a list of key questions that bear on student development of “historical thinking skills.”

Origins. 1492 to 1603. European encounter with native peoples of America. Exploration and Spanish-Portuguese rivalry.

The Colonial Period. 1603-1776. English, French, Dutch, Swedish Great Power conflicts. Economic and political experiments. Wars with native peoples. Slavery. Religious diversity, tolerance, and beginnings of religious freedom. Development of democratic institutions. First Great Awakening. Formation of national identity. Idea of American exceptionalism. Mercantilism. Benjamin Franklin.

The Founding. 1763- 1789. Aftermath of French and Indian War. Colonial discontent. Declaration of Independence. War for Independence. Revolutionary Articles of Confederation. U.S. Constitution. Bill of Rights. Intellectual and historical components of the Constitution. James Madison.

The Early Republic. 1789-1820. Forging national unity. Presidencies of Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Madison, Monroe. Louisiana Purchase. Lewis & Clark Expedition. War of 1812. First Bank of the United States. Compact of States or Union of citizens? Rise of American literature. Eli Whitney. Robert Fulton.

The Era of Good Feeling and the Rise of Sectionalism. 1820-1860. Missouri Compromise. Nullification Crisis. Mexican-American War. Jacksonian democracy. Westward expansion and manifest destiny. Growth of industry. Second Great Awakening. California Gold Rush. Monroe Doctrine. First mass immigration. Intensification of slavery issue. Hot Air Decade of various reform movements. Seneca Falls. Rise of WTC. The Scarlet Letter; Moby Dick; Leaves of Grass.

The Civil War. 1860-1865. Election of Abraham Lincoln. Attempts at compromise. Fracturing of the Union. Long roots of the conflict. Comparative strengths of North and South. Key battles of the war. Emancipation Proclamation, 1863. Confederate surrender and assassination of Lincoln.

Reconstruction. 1865-1877. Andrew Johnson’s presidency. Status of former confederate states. Black Codes. Impeachment of Andrew Johnson. 14th amendment, 1868. Military occupation of south. Carpet baggers and Scalawags. First KKK. Corruption, North and South. Race relations before Jim Crow. Election of 1876 and the end of Reconstruction. Emily Dickenson.

The Gilded Age. 1877-1900. Rapid growth of industrialism and mass immigration from southern and eastern Europe. Rapid expansion of northern urban areas. Racial and religious tensions. American emergence as global economic power. Growth of trade and overseas contacts. Agrarianism and economic uncertainties. Racial tensions and imposition of segregation in Southern states, Plessy v. Ferguson. Spanish-American War and naval expansion. Anarchist Movement. Rapid growth of New Money and large corporations. Thomas Edison. Mark Twain. Henry James. Winslow Homer. Thomas Eakins. John Singer Sargent.

The Progressive Era. 1900-192O. Different themes of progressivism: political, economic, and social. Reform leaders and their social backgrounds. Rise of radical movements such as Wobblies. Presidency of Theodore Roosevelt and the “big stick.” Growth of the Temperance movement and push for national women’s suffrage. Successes and failures of progressive reforms. WW I and the safety of democracy. Income tax. Wright brothers. Henry Ford.

The Roaring Twenties. 1920-1929. Prohibition (1919-1933). Return to “normalcy.” Isolation from European affairs. Main Street vs. Madison Ave. Economic prosperity and mass consumption. Nativism, Red Scares, and rise of new KKK. Technological innovations: movies and radio. Jazz. Culture clashes of the 1920s. Freud and Flappers. Washington Naval Treaty, the League of Nations and disarmament. Lost Generation.

The Great Depression. 1929-1940. Causes of the Crash of 1929: new interpretations. European vs. American rates of recovery. Rise of extremist politics: Coughlin and Long. FDR and the New Deal. Expansion of federal regulatory power and creation of the modern welfare state. The New Deal re-assessed. Elections of 1938 and the end of the New Deal. Rise of Adolf Hitler in Europe and Japanese militarism in Pacific. Big bands. WPA in the arts. Rise of the Popular Front.

World War Two. 1940-1945. Military stagnation and isolationism. Growing tension in Pacific. Rapid advance of Hitler’s military machine and FDR’s support for Great Britain. Public aversion to intervention and “mistake of 1917.” Election of 1940 and FDR’s third term. Pearl Harbor attack and entry into war in Pacific and Europe. Principal battles and final defeat of Axis powers. Alliance with Britain, USSR and hidden tensions prior to 1945. Creation of UN and high public expectations.

The Cold War, 1945-1989. Yalta conference, public views of USSR. Clash of issues or ideas? Containment policy. Nature of Stalinist regime. Communization of Eastern Europe. Chinese Communist revolution. Korean War. Growth of nuclear arsenals. McCarthyism. Eisenhower and Kennedy administrations. The Space race. LBJ and Viet Nam. Nixon and Détente. Reagan and collapse of USSR. American domination of modernist movement in the arts.

Prosperity and Discontent – Civil Rights Movement. Sexual Revolution. Drugs. Vietnam War. Feminism. Moral Majority and evangelical Christians. Expansion of suburbs. Affluent origins of radicalism and protest movements. Great Society and War on Poverty. Massive expansion of federal programs and regulations. Crime in cities. Nixon administration and Watergate. Rise of mass higher education.

Pax Americana or the Age of Terror? 1989-present. America as sole superpower. Chinese/American economic rivalry. Post-communist Russia and America. Emergence of militant Islam. Decline of cities, growth of the New Class and Generation X. Impact of 9/11 terror attacks. Immigration issues. Culture wars, cont’d: marriage, sexuality and lifestyle issues. Nuclear terrorism? Environmentalism and society. Cultural contradictions of capitalism.

 

 

 

Questions

 

  1. North America was colonized by European countries that were not democracies, but a democratic political system emerged from Great Britain’s colonies. How did this happen? What factors contributed to the development of a system of government in America that differed so profoundly from its direct antecedents?

 

  1. Several times in its history, America has received massive influxes of immigrants, who often were of different religious, ethnic or racial backgrounds than those already living in the US. Why did they come? What in particular do you think attracted them? Why has there never been a mass exodus of people leaving the US?

 

 

  1. How does the American Experience differ from the experiences of other peoples around the world? Are we an “apart nation” as President Benjamin Harrison once noted? Or just one nation among many that differs from the others in detail but not in any fundamental way?

 

  1. How do the major reform eras in American history compare? What can be said about the Hot Air decade of the 1840s, the Progressive Era of the early 20th century, the New Deal reforms of the 1930s, and the reform movements of the 1960s?

 

  1. What are some possible views of the Founding? Most of the framers came from privileged backgrounds. To what extent should this be factored into an understanding of the Constitution and the political institutions established by it? Why did they choose to ban titles of nobility and other aspects of aristocracy in the United States? Does it matter that they emphasized a “republic” as opposed to a “democracy” in the new Constitution?

 

  1. Could the Civil War have been avoided? Abraham Lincoln is sometimes faulted for not making a last compromise attempt to save the union. Was this realistic, or were North and South irreconcilable by the time Lincoln was elected? If the war could have been avoided, how?

 

 

  1. Americans have been conflicted over their relationship with government from the beginning of American history. There was wide public support for the New Deal reforms of the 1930s, but so far only tepid endorsement of the idea of government health care or welfare support.   Why should this be? Is there an “average” view of the role of government?

 

  1. The Cold War was seen by most Americans as a response to Soviet aggression and an attempt to “contain” the expansion of communism. Later a “revisionist” school of historians blamed the Cold War on America’s own aggressive tendencies. Which thesis better explains this prolonged conflict? Does the way it ended, with the Soviet Union’s internal collapse, bear on which interpretation is correct?

 

  1. Lord Bryce, the British ambassador to the United States (YEARS) held that great men do not become presidents of the United States. Was he right?

 

  1. America has often been the subject of scrutiny by gifted foreign observers, including Crèvecoeur, Trollope, Dickens, De Toqueville, Weber, and many more. How accurate were their portraits of the country? Why do their assessments continue to attract substantial interest from Americans?

 

  1. American art and literature began in frank imitation of European styles and genres but quickly gained its own distinctive outlook and voice, and in some periods came to dominate over its European counterparts. How did this happen?

 

  1. America has fought many wars over its relatively short history. Was this an accident or the result of compelling external threats? Is there a distinctive American way of fighting wars?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Author of College Board AP US History “Critic of American Exceptionalism”

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(Editor: www.thereportcard.org Many noted scholars, Dr. Peter Wood of the National Association of Scholars and Larry Krieger, AP History expert among others have criticized the new College Board’s AP US History Framework (APUSH) for looking at American history only through the lens of racial bigotry, capitalist oppression and sexism. Now Stanley Kurtz, in the National Review, lays out the evidence that the authors of APUSH, harbor extreme anti-American views including a clear rejection of the de Tocqueville concept of American Exceptionalism).

 

The College Board, the private company that produces the SAT test and the various Advanced Placement (AP) exams, has kicked off a national controversy by issuing a new and unprecedentedly detailed “Framework” for its AP U.S. History exam. This Framework will effectively force American high schools to teach U.S. history from a leftist perspective. The College Board disclaims political intent, insisting that the new Framework provides a “balanced” guide that merely helps to streamline the AP U.S. History course while enhancing teacher flexibility. Not only the Framework itself, but the history of its development suggests that a balanced presentation of the American story was not the College Board’s goal.

The origins of the new AP U.S. History framework are closely tied to a movement of left-leaning historians that aims to “internationalize” the teaching of American history. The goal is to “end American history as we have known it” by substituting a more “transnational” narrative for the traditional account.

This movement’s goals are clearly political, and include the promotion of an American foreign policy that eschews the unilateral use of force. The movement to “internationalize” the U.S. History curriculum also seeks to produce a generation of Americans more amendable to working through the United Nations and various left-leaning “non-governmental organizations” (NGOs) on issues like the environment and nuclear proliferation. A willingness to use foreign law to interpret the U.S. Constitution is likewise encouraged.

The College Board formed a close alliance with this movement to internationalize the teaching of American history just prior to initiating its redesign of the AP U.S. History exam. Key figures in that alliance are now in charge of the AP U.S. History redesign process, including the committee charged with writing the new AP U.S. History exam. The new AP U.S. History Framework clearly shows the imprint of the movement to de-nationalize American history. Before I trace the rise of this movement and its ties to the College Board, let’s have a closer look at its goals.

NYU historian Thomas Bender is the leading spokesman for the movement to internationalize the U.S. History curriculum at every educational level. The fullest and clearest statement of Bender’s views can be found in his 2006 book, A Nation Among Nations: America’s Place in World History. Bender is a thoroughgoing critic of American exceptionalism, the notion that America is freer and more democratic than any other nation, and for that reason, a model, vindicator, and at times the chief defender of ordered liberty and self-government in the world.

In opposition to this, Bender wants to subordinate American identity to a cosmopolitan, “transnational” sensibility. Bender urges us to see each nation, our own included, as but “a province among the provinces that make up the world.” Whereas the old U.S. history forged a shared national identity by emphasizing America’s distinctiveness, Bender hopes to encourage cosmopolitanism by “internationalizing” the American story.

Bender laments that history as taught in our schools has bred an “acceptance of the nation as the dominant form of human solidarity.” The growing focus on gender, race, and ethnicity is welcome, says Bender, but does little to transform an underlying historical narrative built around the nation. Even the rise of world history in the schools has backfired, Bender maintains, by making it appear as though American history and world history are somehow different topics.

Bender understands that his transnational twist on American history has profound political implications. He complains that while working on his book (during George W. Bush’s presidency), “a discourse of exceptionalism and policies based on it became omnipresent in American public life.” Bender promises that his transnational framing of American history “will give little comfort” to the proponents of policies based on American exceptionalism.

He worries, however, that his globalizing approach to American history might be used to defend precisely the sort of “hegemonic” American foreign-policy he abhors. To prevent this, Bender urges that American history be taught, not only from an American point of view, but from the perspective of those who are subject to American power. “Americans have always found it difficult to imagine themselves as an enemy, as a problem for other people,” says Bender. By showing us ourselves through our enemies’ eyes, Bender hopes to promote humbler and more collaborative forms of American foreign-policy.

 

Bender complains about George W. Bush era foreign policy, not only in respect to war, but also in the matters of, “environment, trade, nuclear, and other policies.” Clearly, he hopes that his anti-exceptionalist vision of American-history will encourage a different approach to foreign affairs. Bender also openly hopes that students exposed to a less “national” version of American history will sympathize with Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s willingness to use foreign law to interpret the U.S. Constitution, rather than with Justice Antonin Scalia’s rejection of foreign law as an arbiter of American jurisprudence.

In 2006, A Nation Among Nations provoked a sharp exchange between Bender and Brooklyn College professor of history, Robert David Johnson in the journal Historically Speaking. Going on the attack, Johnson calls Bender’s “transnational” version of American history, “little more than an attempt to ensure that students think a certain way about contemporary events.” Johnson warns Bender that “establishing as an outcome for high school history classes the judicial philosophy of Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer . . . will undermine support for public education among citizens who disagree with the preferred ideology.”

Bender parries Johnson’s charges of politicization with a non-denial denial. I offer no “rules for specific actions in the world,” says Bender, nor is my book about “any specific foreign policy.” But Bender doesn’t have to write a policy brief. To achieve his preferred policy results, he merely needs to inculcate a cosmopolitan sensibility and an abiding hostility to American exceptionalism. Bender also denies Johnson’s claim that he wants to “merge” high school U.S. history with World history, yet Bender clearly wants to integrate them in a way that subordinates the American national story to the transnational, globalist perspective.

To understand the deep entanglement of the College Board in Bender’s political and intellectual project, we need to return to 2000, when a group of 78 historians under the auspices of the Organization of American Historians (OAH) issued the flagship document of the movement to “internationalize” American history, “The La Pietra Report.” Bender authored that report, and it prefigures all the themes he develops in his later writings.

The report takes its name from the Italian villa where the meetings took place, from 1997 to 2000. The La Pietra Report makes much of the fact that those meetings were held outside the United States, and that nearly a third of the scholars working to forge a new U.S. History curriculum were non-Americans. One such scholar, in fact, was Cuban.

Francesca Lopez Civeira, of the University of Havana, participated in absentia, sending a paper on American power as “an object of fear” in Cuban historiography. That fit squarely into a central theme of the La Pietra Report, which urges that American students be exposed to evidence of the “controversial power and presence” of the United States beyond our borders, to the point where “one’s native land seems foreign.”

 

In common with Bender’s later work, an interim report on the 1998 La Pietra conference warns that a newly internationalized American history could inadvertently create a new “…American global city on a hill, the new model for a global culture and economy. There is a danger of a triumphalism that this history could fall into, thus becoming the ideological justification for the latest phase of capitalism.” Again, the La Pietra scholars try to prevent an internationalized history from justifying America’s global economic and military reach by focusing on how America’s alleged victims and enemies feel about the use of our power.

A conclave of historians with a left-wing foreign policy agenda, a third of them from foreign countries, seems an odd inspiration for the ostensibly non-partisan College Board’s redesign of the AP U.S. History Exam. Yet that is exactly what the La Pietra conference and its report became.

In 2002, two years after the appearance of the La Pietra Report, Rethinking American History in a Global Age, a collection of representative papers from the La Pietra conference was published, with Bender as its editor. At the same moment, the Organization of American Historians, which had sponsored the La Pietra Report, moved to strengthen its collaborative relationship with the College Board’s AP U.S. History program. This led to the formation in 2003 of a Joint OAH/AP Advisory Board on Teaching the U.S. History Survey Course. This Advisory Board focused its efforts on fulfilling the goals of the La Pietra Report. So by forging an alliance with the College Board, Bender and his allies discovered a way to transform the teaching of U.S. history.

 

Ted Dickson, who served as Co-Chair of the AP U.S. History Curriculum Development and Assessment Committee (the body that wrote the new AP U.S. History Framework), was an original member of the joint panel seeking to advance the goals of the La Pietra Report.

In June of 2004, just as the Joint OAH/AP Advisory Board was searching for ways to reshape the teaching of U.S. history along “transnational” lines, Thomas Bender was invited to address hundreds of readers gathered to grade the essay portion of that year’s AP U.S. History Exam. Bender’s talk, still available at the AP Central website, reflects his political agenda. Speaking in the wake of the American invasion of Iraq, Bender argues that historians who offer narratives of American exceptionalism “bear some responsibility” for reinforcing “a unilateralist understanding of the United States in the world.” That attitude, says Bender, must be fought.

Offering an alternative, transnational history designed to combat American “unilateralism,” Bender says that Columbus and his successors didn’t discover America so much as they discovered “the ocean world,” a new global community united by the oceans. The oceans, in turn, made possible the slave trade and the birth of modern capitalism, which improved the lives of European, but brought exploitation and tragic injustice to the rest of the world. Bender concludes that early American history is only partially about “utopian dreams of opportunity or escape”. The beginnings of the American story, says Bender, are also deeply rooted in the birth of capitalism, and the “capture, constraint, and exploitation” this implies.

 

In other words, Bender wants early American history to be less about the Pilgrims, Plymouth Colony, and John Winthrop’s “City on a Hill” speech, and more about the role of the plantation economy and the slave trade in the rise of an intrinsically exploitative international capitalism.

If the College Board didn’t fully understand the political agenda behind Bender’s La Pietra Report before his talk to the AP Exam readers, they had to understand it after. Yet instead of distancing themselves from this highly politicized and left-leaning approach to American history, the College Board redoubled its efforts on Bender’s behalf.

The OAH-AP Joint Advisory Board decided to publish a collection of essays that would serve as a how-to manual for adopting the recommendations of Bender’s La Pietra Report. So, for example, a scholarly essay on American “cultural imperialism” would be paired with a piece by a high school teacher explaining how the topic of American cultural imperialism could be adapted to the AP U.S. History course. Ted Dickson, future co-chair of the committee that actually wrote the new Framework, was chosen to co-edit this book, which was published in 2008 as America on the World Stage: A Global Approach to U.S. History. Thomas Bender wrote an introduction to the book explaining the philosophy behind the La Pietra Report.

A bit of the material in America on the World Stage—an essay on international responses to the Declaration of Independence, for example—could backfire on Bender by reinforcing an American exceptionalist narrative. Most of the essays in America on the World Stage, however, read like deconstructions of the American story, or catalogues of (alleged) American shame.

Consider the treatment of immigration, which was written by Florida State University historian, Suzanne Sinke, who co-chaired (with Ted Dickson) the committee that wrote the new AP U.S. History Framework. Sinke tells the tale of an early 20th Century ethnically Dutch woman who immigrated to America, merely to leave and go elsewhere. Traditional historians would not treat this woman as an American “immigrant” at all. And that’s the point. Sinke emphasizes that her goal in telling the story of a woman who merely passed through America without deciding to stay and become a citizen is to teach us “to think beyond national histories and the terms that are caught up in them.”

Ted Dickson’s companion piece on how to teach Sinke’s essay (co-authored with Louisa Bond Moffitt), suggests asking students why the term “migration” might be preferable to “immigration.” The answer is that “immigration” implies a specific and permanent national destination, whereas “migration” is simply about the movement of people across borders, without any reference to adopting a national identity. The political subtext is clear: national interest and national identity take second place to the interests of individual “migrants,” whose loyalties are ultimately “transnational.”

So just before they became co-chairs of the committee that redesigned the AP U.S. History Framework, Suzanne Sinke and Ted Dickson worked closely together on a project whose goal was to reshape the U.S. History Survey Course along the lines recommended by Thomas Bender and the La Pietra Report.

Lawrence Charap, the College Board’s AP Curriculum and Content Development Director, is in overall charge of the AP U.S. History redesign process. Presumably, Sinke and Dickson answer to him. So it is of interest that Charap wrote the companion piece in America on the World Stage to the scholarly article on American cultural imperialism. This scholarly treatment of American cultural imperialism, penned by left-leaning University of Michigan historian Penny Von Eschen, is relentlessly critical of America’s economic and military presence in the world. Eschen, for example, touts the Marxist tract, How to Read Donald Duck, by Ariel Dorfman and Armand Mattelhart, as the classic treatment of American cultural imperialism. How to Read Donald Duck explores the subtle and sinister ways in which Disney cartoons advocate “adherence to the U.S. economic system and capitalist values and work ethic,” as if this was a very bad thing.

 

Charap’s essay highlights America’s commercial advertisements and anti-Soviet propaganda efforts in the Middle East during the Cold War. Charap seeks out off-putting examples of American propaganda and then suggests that students to put themselves in the places of people in the Soviet block or developing world as they respond to the American presence. This, indeed, is teaching students to see their country through the eyes of its alleged “victims” and enemies.

So the three people most immediately responsible for the writing of the new AP U.S. History Framework were intimately involved in the College Board’s effort to transform the teaching of American history along the lines of Bender’s La Pietra Report. What’s more, the AP U.S. History redesign process began in August of 2006, just about the time America on the World Stage was taking shape. Dickson, a co-editor of that book, was on the original redesign committee as well as the later one that actually wrote the new AP U.S. History Framework. Dickson himself notes that his work with the OAH (which largely focused on advancing the goals of the La Pietra Report) was a key factor in the College Board’s decision to appoint him to the AP U.S. History Redesign Commission. How can American conservatives, moderates, and even traditional liberals trust an AP U.S. History redesign effort led by figures who were so deeply enmeshed in a leftist attempt to reshape the American history curriculum?

A detailed analysis of the new AP U.S. History Framework is for another time. Suffice it to say that in its downplaying of America’s traditional national story and emphasis instead on material causation and exploitation within the context of a transnational Atlantic World, the new AP U.S. History Framework is a huge step in the direction of precisely the sort of de-nationalized American history advocated by Thomas Bender and the La Pietra Report.

 

It is also important to emphasize that the concept of American exceptionalism, which is systematically excised from, and contradicted by, the redesigned Framework, is an integral part of several state curriculum guides, including the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS). That raises serious legal questions about the compatibility of the redesigned Framework with state standards.

This is not to say that Bender, the La Pietra Report, and the attack on American exceptionalism are the only important ideological influences on the redesigned AP U.S. History Framework. Several other important streams of political and intellectual influence have shaped the new Framework, and I will be detailing these in future reports.

It is true, of course, that as on much else, Americans are divided about how best to teach and understand U.S. history. This is precisely why the new, lengthy, and detailed AP U.S. History Framework is such a bad idea. The brief five-page conceptual guideline the Framework replaced allowed sufficient flexibility for teachers to approach U.S. History from a wide variety of perspectives. Liberals, conservatives, and anyone in-between could teach U.S. history their way, and still see their students do well on the AP Test. The College Board’s new and vastly more detailed guidelines can only be interpreted as an attempt to hijack the teaching of U.S. history on behalf of a leftist political and ideological perspective. The College Board has drastically eroded the freedom of states, school districts, teachers, and parents to choose the history they teach their children

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Professor Fired for Israel-Hating Tweets

Steve Salaita

Steve Salaita

By Bill Korach www.thereportcard.org

In a rare display of good judgment and courage, the University of Illinois has revoked the contract of Steven Salaita, an Israel-hating leftist after many tweets like this surfaced:

“At this point, if Netanyahu appeared on TV with a necklace made from the teeth of Palestinian children, would anybody be surprised?”

Mr. Salaita, a professor of indigenous studies, wrote dozens of inflammatory tweets condemning Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Israel’s military assaults in Gaza. He wrote the tweets after leaving his tenured job at Virginia Tech, but before his job offer from the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana was approved by that college’s board of trustees. Mr. Salaita’s offer of employment was revoked by The U of I after this tweet became known:

In another tweet, he wrote: “It’s simple: either condemn #Israel’s actions or embrace your identity as someone who’s okay with the wholesale slaughter of children.”

Mr. Salaita, an American of Palestinian parentage, has written five books that conflate America’s conquest of the west with colonial genocide. He also accuses Israel of colonial occupation and frequently condemns America and Israel as racist. Mr. Salaita is an exemplary member of politically correct historians who view America through the lens of Race, class and gender.

Mr. Salaita’s loss of his job offer comes amid strained relations on campuses over the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

In February, an academic group called the American Studies Association voted to boycott Israeli universities. In June, the Modern Language Association rejected a resolution critical of Israel. Student groups from Massachusetts to California have clashed over the matter.

Last fall, Mr. Salaita accepted the tenured job offer at the University of Illinois, said Robert Warrior, director of the school’s American Indian Studies Program. The contract was set to be ratified by university’s board of trustees in September. That approval normally is a formality.

Douglas Belkin of the Wall Street Journal wrote:

On Aug. 1, the school’s chancellor and vice president for academic affairs sent Mr. Salaita a letter, reviewed by The Wall Street Journal, that said they “will not be in a position to appoint you to the faculty.”

 

The revocation of Mr. Salaita’s job offer has divided academic free-speech advocates.

The Illinois branch of the American Association of University Professors said the “controversy is at the heart of…free academic inquiry” and if the school voided a job offer due to tweets about the Palestinian-Israeli conflict it “would be a clear violation of Professor Salaita’s academic freedom.” The national AAUP also supported him.

But Cary Nelson, an English professor at the University of Illinois and a former president of the national AAUP, said Mr. Salaita made himself vulnerable by speaking out before his hiring was complete and by appearing to incite violence. “I think he stepped over the line,” he said.

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The Concord Review Announces Coaching for Exceptional Students

Will Fitzhugh Publisher The Concord Review

Will Fitzhugh Publisher The Concord Review

By Bill Korach www.thereportcard.org

Will Fitzhugh, Publisher of The Concord Review, told The Report Card: “Exceptional students are often left to their own devices to develop their unique gifts. TCR surveys show that public school teachers don’t have the time to cultivate exceptional student. So we are announcing a coaching program to help these students develop superb writing and research skills.”

Mr. Fitzhugh should know, fully 42% of students published in The Concord Review are accepted at Ivy League schools and in addition, other top schools like The University of Chicago, and Stanford. Harvard agrees with Mr. Fitzhugh:

William R. Fitzsimmons, Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid at Harvard College, has written: “All of us here in the Admissions Office are big fans of The Concord Review.”

 

There is no question that the most talented and gifted students are neglected in public school. According to Chester Finn, former Assistant Secretary of The U.S. Department Education:

“Education policy in recent decades has been focused primarily on ensuring that all children — especially poor and minority children— attain at least a minimum level of academic achievement. However, many of the country’s most talented young people are left unable to surge ahead, languishing in classes geared toward universal but modest proficiency.

In our effort to leave no child behind, we are failing the high-ability children who are the most likely to become tomorrow’s scientists, inventors, poets, and entrepreneurs — and in the process we risk leaving our nation behind. This failure is due more to ideology, political correctness, distorted priorities, and fallacious theories of education, than it is to scarce resources, as many administrators and politicians would have us believe.”

 

Mr. Fitzhugh says:

 

“The Concord Review Academic Coaching Service provides individual, online coaching for high school students interested in going above and beyond their schools’ academic expectations. We provide coaching on history papers and on research papers in other subjects where there is a demand. We provide coaching for motivated students who are writing serious research papers.

TCR Academic Coaches help high school students excel in writing research papers. Our academic coaches specialize in nonfiction academic writing, an important skill for students in any field and a skill that many research journals, contests, summer programs, and advanced courses require. Students working with our coaches can get help in their writing tasks, including International Baccalaureate Extended Essays, and for any course where nonfiction writing is important. Our online coaching service provides personal coaching for each student, saves students travel time and resources, and allows us to help students anywhere in the world. Working with TCR Academic Coaches, students can meet higher academic standards of their own, stand out in both college admissions [Forty-two percent of past Concord Review authors have attended the Ivy League colleges or Stanford] and in other competitive program admissions, and excel in their high school and beyond.”

 

The Concord Review Academic Coaching Service was founded by Will Fitzhugh, the founder and editor of The Concord Review, which since 1987 has remained the only quarterly journal to publish the academic history papers of high school students. The Concord Review publishes about five percent of the papers it receives from 40 countries. The Concord Review is dedicated to recognizing and encouraging the world’s most academically able high school students. Our academic coaches are primarily former Concord Review authors who now attend or have graduated from highly- competitive, selective colleges. Our senior coaches have studied at the graduate level.

 

If you are interested in and/or have any questions about The Concord Review Academic Coaching Service, please email Jessica Li at jessica@tcr.org or Will Fitzhugh at fitzhugh@tcr.org.

 

America’s top scholars praise The Concord Review:

 

“As a physicist, I am accustomed to the many initiatives, such as math competitions and physics olympiads, instituted to recognize and promote interest and talent in the sciences among high school students. However, I have always felt that there was no equivalent mechanism to encourage and nurture students in the humanities, and to recognize their accomplishments. The Concord Review strikes me as a simple yet brilliant idea to help fill that gap, and as a very effective way to promote high standards and excellence in the humanities.”

 

Chiara R. Nappi, Theoretical Physicist, Princeton Institute for Advanced Study

 

“The leading U.S. proponent of more research work for the nation’s teens is Will Fitzhugh, who has been publishing high school student [history] papers in his Concord Review journal since 1987…“

 

Jay Mathews, The Washington Post

 

 

“I very much like and support what you’re doing with The Concord Review. It’s original, important, and greatly needed, now more than ever, with the problem of historic illiteracy growing steadily worse among the high school generation nearly everywhere in the country.”

 

David McCullough, Historian

 

“Congratulations, Will, on encouraging all this intellectual talent to flourish! It is a great thing you do.”

 

James Basker, Professor of Literary History, Barnard College, Columbia University

 

“Thank you for leaving a copy of The Concord Review with me; I have read a number of the essays in the Summer issue and found them to be most impressive. All best wishes for this great venture; you have certainly created a most wonderful and gratifying opportunity for young writers.”

 

John W. Hattendorf, Ernest J. King Professor of Maritime History, Naval War College

 

 

“I believe The Concord Review is one of the most imaginative, creative, and supportive initiatives in public education. It is a wonderful incentive to high school students to take scholarship and writing seriously.”

 

John Silber, President Emeritus and University Professor, Boston University

 

“I mention the work published in The Concord Review every chance I get, as evidence that high school students could be given harder tasks and held to higher standards.“

 

Catherine Snow, Patricia Albjerg Graham Professor, Harvard Graduate School of Education

 

 

“We have switched to courses that emphasize reading, research, and writing—you are an inspiration to all of us, keep up the good work.”

 

Paul Horton, History Teacher, University of Chicago Laboratory High School

 

“It’s hard for me to say adequately how much I admire and value what The Concord Review has accomplished. It has not only encouraged students to take the writing of history seriously, and significantly raised the level of quality of their historical analysis, but it has encouraged students to take their writing as seriously as their history. The Review is a jewel in the crown of American education.”

Stanley N. Katz, Director, Center for Arts and Cultural Policy Studies, Woodrow Wilson School, Princeton University

For more information about The Concord Review Academic Coaching Service, please email Jessica Li at jessica@tcr.org or Will Fitzhugh at fitzhugh@tcr.org.

 

 

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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 www.thereportcard.org

 

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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Karen Harvey: Candidate for St. Johns County Florida School Board

Karen Harvey

Karen Harvey

By Bill Korach www.thereportcard.org

Karen Harvey, an author of history books and docent in St. Augustine, is running for school board against Bill Mignon. The Report Card interviewed Ms. Harvey on her reasons for running. She said: “St. Johns schools are the best in Florida and I believe what we’ve achieved could be harmed by full adoption of Common Core. My opponent, Bill Mignon broke a tie to vote for Common Core and accept Race to the Top funding. I believe that was a very bad decision.”

We asked if SJC was obliged to keep Common Core because the county took Race to the Top funds. Ms. Harvey said: The grant for Race to the Top has expired and we can opt out.”

Ms. Harvey is opposed to educational materials that put cast America in a totally negative light: “I don’t think we should use history books that are biased in favor of Islam. We are a country with Christian traditions, and we must teach an understanding our culture. I’m afraid we’ve failed to do that. I’m a docent at my church, Memorial Presbyterian. One day a young man of school age came in for the tour. He asked: ‘What’s a Presbyterian? Then he asked me to explain the meaning of Christian. This means our kids are not being taught, and they simply must be taught our history so they can be taught citizenship.”

What is her experience with education? “I have written many history books and I am current working on a history of St. Johns Public Schools for Dr. Joyner the SJC School Superintendent. I have visited 95% of the schools in SJC. I applaud Dr. Joyner for founding specialized career academies. I would like to see some of older schools in St. Augustine have more support from the parents. Some of our churches, mine included have volunteers who tutor kids whose parents are uninvolved. I’d like to see more of this.”

How does she feel about charters?

“I think choice is good when it fills a need. I’d like to see more instruction about faith and its positive role in society.”

 

 

Karen Harvey is a local authority on Florida History. She has been a resident of St. Augustine, Florida, for thirty-four years. She is the author of nine books in print, numerous articles, museum text panels and videos. She is an historic interpreter with knowledge spanning the centuries of cultural changes in St. Augustine and is available for specialty tours. She has taught at the college level and provides fourth-grade history tours for the required Florida history classes. Her teaching background includes substitute teaching in the local school system. She has appeared on the History Channel, the Discovery Channel, and in numerous documentaries about “spiritual activity” in St. Augustine. She provides dramatic presentations of five women about whom she researched and wrote. She is a member of the St. Augustine Historical Society and the Romanza festival organization. She is active with the Florida Heritage Book Festival and has served on local citizens’ boards including the Historic Architecture Review Board,  the Historic Preservation Advisory Committee.  She was a board member for the St. Augustine Lighthouse and Museum, Inc.

For her mastery of history, she is a recipient of the 2008 Tourism Employee of the Year Award. Her most recent publication St. Augustine Enters the Twenty First Century won the 2010 Florida Writers Award for first place in the history category.

Born in Flushing, New York, Harvey was transplanted to Florida when she was 11 years old. She holds degrees from the University of North Carolina, Greensboro, and American University in Washington, D.C. Her travels include living in Viet Nam, Guatemala, Bolivia and Ireland. She provided lectures about Florida history in Trinity University (Dublin) and the University of Dublin. She continues to visit countries that expand her knowledge of history.

Harvey’s latest publication, St. Augustine Enters the Twenty-First Century, arrived in stores in June 2010. The 222 page book contains more than 200 photos and discusses the changes in the city and county over the last three decades. It is a companion piece to St. Augustine and St. Johns County: A Pictorial History, a popular coffee-table publication now in its ninth  printing. She has lived in St. Augustine since 1978. Additional available works include America’s First City: St. Augustine’s Historic Neighborhoods a book focusing on historic and architecturally significant sites and houses; Oldest Ghosts, a fun read about spiritual activity selling well to ghost hunters; Daring Daughters: St. Augustine’s Feisty Females; and Five Women Five Stories. She scripted the DVD documentary about St. Augustine’s Lighthouse titled First Light St. Augustine’s Lighthouse.

Harvey’s play Conquest and Colonization ran for five spring seasons from 1996 through 2000 entertaining school and tour groups with the story of the founding of St. Augustine and the settlement of Florida. She was the arts and entertainment editor for The St. Augustine Record for seven years and continues to write for the newspaper on a freelance basis.

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TX Board of Ed Member: “This is Our Valley Forge, Our D-day”

Ken Mercer Texas State Board of Education

Ken Mercer Texas State Board of Education

by Ken Mercer

(Editor: www.thereportcard.org   Ken Mercer is a member of the Texas Board of Education and a former member of the Texas House of Representatives. Mr. Mercer has been a strong voice for K-12 curricula containing traditional American History and Civics. Although Texas is not a Common Core state, Mr. Mercer points out the danger of having Common Core author David Coleman as head of the College Board. In this article written for The Report Card, Mr. Mercer comments on the new anti-American College Board Advanced Placement U.S. History Framework).

On July 4th we witnessed nationwide patriotism honoring our Founding Fathers and the sacrifices of our courageous men and women in uniform. This must have annoyed David Coleman, the chief architect of the controversial Common Core national standards, and many of his College Board (CB) colleagues.

After drafting the Common Core English language arts standards, Coleman became president of the CB. He immediately moved to implement his Common Core standards into the Scholastic Achievement Test (SAT).

Then it was announced – the 34 Advanced Placement (AP) courses that high school students take for college credit – will be aligned with Common Core.

While we celebrate Independence Day, the CB (www.CollegeBoard.com) is rolling out its new AP U.S. History (APUSH) course. This fall over 450,000 high school sophomores and juniors, including at least 46,000 from Texas, will enroll in APUSH. This will be their last high school course ever in United States history.

The College Board has traditionally provided APUSH teachers with a detailed 5-page Topical Outline that presents a reasonably balanced view of American history. In practice the APUSH course has always supported the history standards passed by your state’s legislature.

This fall APUSH teachers must ignore state standards and teach the CB’s new 98-page “Framework” that defines “the required knowledge of each period.”

While claiming “flexibility” for educators to study other events and persons required by state curriculum guides, the CB website clearly states that “all questions [on the AP exam] are derived from the course’s stated learning objectives.” In other words, teachers don’t waste your time — we (CB) decide what is important in U.S. history.

This means that Coleman and his unelected College Board become the de facto legislature and board of education for each state.

 

How bad is the new AP U.S. History Framework? Here are a few key items verified with Larry Krieger (retired teacher and author recognized by the CB as one of the best AP teachers in 2004 and 2005) and Jane Robbins (Senior Fellow at the American Principles Project):

  • In the period of the American Revolution up to the 1787 Constitutional Convention, almost every Founding Father is omitted – no Jefferson, Adams, Madison, or Franklin. The Framework excludes Lexington, Concord, Bunker Hill, Valley Forge, Saratoga, and Yorktown. The commanders and heroes of these pivotal battles are all omitted.
  • The lessons on the Civil War omit the Lincoln-Douglas debates, the Gettysburg Address, and the assassination of President Lincoln. The Framework once again omits crucial battles, key commanders, and the valor of common soldiers.
  • The lessons on World War II omit “The Greatest Generation,” Truman, Hitler, D-Day, Midway, the Battle of the Bulge, and every military commander including Dwight Eisenhower. Inexplicably, Nazi atrocities against Jews and other groups are not required. The CB concludes its treatment of WWII with this blunt statement: “The decision to drop the atomic bomb raised questions about American values.”
  • The lessons on the Civil Rights Movement do not mention America’s first African-American President. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Cesar Chavez, Rosa Parks, the Navajo Code Talkers, Tuskegee Airmen, 442nd Infantry Regiment, and Barbara Jordan’s famous speech on the Constitution are all omitted.

A word search of the entire 98-page document will not find one military commander or one Medal of Honor recipient. Our best and brightest students will thus learn nothing of the heroism and sacrifices of Americans in uniform.

The CB instead presents an overwhelmingly negative viewpoint of U.S. history that will only please America-haters such as former Illinois professor Bill Ayers.

This unelected body is rewriting United States history and promoting among our students a disdain for American principles and a lack of knowledge of major American achievements.

History is a dramatic story which, if taught well, allows students to study both the good and bad of America. The new APUSH Framework purposely stresses the negative while dismissing America’s positive contributions.

If we do nothing, this radical AP U.S. History course will enter our high schools this fall.

Join me in the “Revolution of 2014” by demanding that Members of your House and Senate and State Board of Education immediately rebuke and reject. Rebuke the College Board for promoting an unbalanced, far-left agenda. Reject the new 2014 APUSH Framework and Exam.

Educators can continue with the previous APUSH course and exam until Congress investigates and demands a new course built by professors who understand balance, honor our military heroes, and love America.

For today’s patriots, this is our Valley Forge and our D-Day – this is the Revolution of 2014!

 

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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: www.thereportcard.org 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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Rate Buster

 

Will Fitzhugh, Publisher The Concord Review

Will Fitzhugh, Publisher The Concord Review

 
By Will Fitzhugh for www.thereportcard.org
The Concord Review
4 May 2014
 
 
Back in the day, when Union contracts specified the number of widgets each worker was expected to produce during a shift, that number was called “the rate.” Anyone who produced more than that number was called a “rate-buster,” and was subjected to pressure, sanctions, and the like, from fellow union members, until the production was once more within the agreed rate for that job.
 
There are “rates” in education as well, for students. In general, when they are assigned nonfiction papers, even many high school students are asked to write 3-5 pages. The International Baccalaureate asks for Extended Essays of 4,000 words (16 pages) at the end of a candidate’s time in the program, but that is quite out of the ordinary. 
 
Recently a Junior at one of the most prestigious (and most expensive) New England preparatory schools expressed an interest in preparing a paper to be considered by The Concord Review, where the published history research papers average 6,000 words (24 pages), but she was concerned because her teachers limited history papers at that school to 1,000 words or less (4 pages). 
 
When The Concord Review started calling for history research papers by secondary students in 1987, the suggestion was that papers should be 4,000-6,000 words (or more), (16-24 pages) and students have been sending in longer papers ever since. One 21,000-word paper on the Mountain Meadows Massacre (c. 80 pages) was submitted by a nationally-ranked equestrienne, who later went to Stanford. When she asked her teacher if it was OK that her paper would be quite long, he said, “Yes.”
 
But she (and he) are rate-busters, who are willing to go beyond the common expectations for what high school students are capable of in writing serious history research papers. In his introduction to the first issue of The Concord Review, Theodore Sizer, former Dean of the School of Education at Harvard, and former Headmaster at Andover, wrote:   

“Americans shamefully underestimate their adolescents. With often misdirected generosity, we offer them all sorts of opportunities and, at least for middle-class and affluent youths, the time and resources to take advantage of them.
 
We ask little in return. We expect little, and the young people sense this, and relax. The genially superficial is tolerated, save in areas where the high school students themselves have some control, in inter-scholastic athletics, sometimes in their part-time work, almost always in their socializing.”
 
Not much has changed since Dr. Sizer wrote that in 1988. Teachers and others continue to find ways to limit the amount of nonfiction writing our students do, with the result, of course, that they do not get very good at it. But no matter how much college professors and employers complain that their students and employees can’t write, our “union rules” at the k-12 level ensure that students do very little serious writing. 
 
This is not the result of a union contract on rates, but it does come in part from the fact that, for instance in many public high schools, teachers can have 150 or more students. This provides a gigantic disincentive for them in assigning papers. They must consider how much time they have to advise students on term papers and to evaluate them when they are submitted. But the administration and the school committees do not want nonfiction writing to get, for example, the extra time routinely given to after-school sports.
 
In addition, some significant number of teachers have never written a thesis, or done much serious nonfiction writing of their own, which makes it easier for them to be comfortable in limiting their students to the minimum of nonfiction writing in school.
 
The Concord Review has published 101 issues with 1,110 history research papers by secondary students from 46 states and 39 other countries, so there are some “rate-buster” teachers out there, even in our public high schools. It is even clearer, from the number of excellent “independent study” papers we receive, that many more students, when they see the exemplary work of their peers, follow the rule that says “Where there’s a Way there’s a Will,” and they take advantage of the fact that the journal not only does not tell them what to write about, it does not limit the length of the papers they want to write. When we see the number of these fine nonfiction papers, it should make us regret all the more everything we do to press our potential student “rate-busters” to do less than they could. We don’t do that in sports. Why in the world do we do it in academics?
 
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The Concord Review: A Bright Star in the Black Hole of U.S. Education

 

Will Fitzhugh Publisher of The Concord Review

Will Fitzhugh Publisher of The Concord Review

 

(Editor: www.thereportcard.org Will Fitzhugh, who Report Card readers will know as a frequent contributor to these columns, publishes The Concord Review. The Concord Review is distributed quarterly, and contains arguably the best high school writing on history in America. Mr. Fitzhugh remembers what many schools seem to have forgotten: the study of history and writing about history is an excellent teacher. Rigorous writing and excellent literature has all but vanished from the classroom in favor of ever-evolving educational fads like Common Core. Students whose work has been published in The Concord Review are admitted to the top universities in America and for that matter the world. Strangely, while every silly new pedagogy is introduced with billions of dollars in support, and teaches nothing, The Concord Review published on a shoestring, has been a great launch pad for students. Mr. Fitzhugh’s Harvard classmates make an appeal to guaranty the future of this wonderful publication).

Dear Harvard & Radcliffe Classes of 1960 Classmate -

On behalf of our classmate, Will Fitzhugh, I encourage you to consider seriously supporting The Concord Review.

Will, since 1987, has published The Concord Review (www.tcr.org) as a labor of love and as witness to the need to enable the serious academic development of high school students with an opportunity to delve into historical research and to write some meaningful non-fiction.  As Will is now 77, if The Concord Review is to continue, an understudy to replace him must be sought and, just as importantly, stable financial support is required! This unique journal has published 100 issues with 1,099 exemplary history research papers by secondary students from 46 states and 39 other countries. Papers average 6,000 words, with endnotes and bibliography, and so far 122 of these young authors have been accepted at and gone to Harvard.

What follows is Will’s explanation and appeal. Please support Will and The Concord Review.

Will Fitzhugh, The Concord Review  730 Boston Post Road, Suite 24, Sudbury, MA 01776 USA

fitzhugh@tcr.org;   978-443-0022;   www.tcr.org

Thank you!

 

Sincerely,

 

- Henry Marcy  (A one-time, high school American history teacher)

The goal of The Concord Review is to seek out and recognize exemplary history essays by high school students and to distribute that work as widely as possible to help other students learn more history and to find inspiration in the writing of their peers.  As of 2014, 1,099 history research papers, by students from 46 states and 39 other countries, in English, have been published in the first 100 issues of this unique international journal.  The Concord Review is the only journal in the world to publish the academic work of secondary school students.

The Concord Review, Inc., a 501(c)(3) Massachusetts corporation, seeks to build an endowment to support its programs into the future, as an example to the world of the highest international standards for academic literacy and assessment at the high school level.

Broeck Oder of Santa Catalina School in Monterey, California, has had his students reading the essays published in the journal and he says: “The fact that teenagers are always highly interested in what other teenagers are doing is helpful, for the articles hold something of a natural attraction to the students. In addition, they are always impressed that students like themselves can produce such high-quality work. Many teens are used to hearing how poorly their age group is doing academically, but the Review is refreshing proof that such is not universally the case!”

And a high school author commented: “When I first came across The Concord Review, I was extremely impressed by the quality of writing and breadth of historical topics covered by the essays in it. While most of the writing I have completed for my high school history classes has been formulaic and limited to specified topics, The Concord Review motivated me to undertake independent research in the development of the American Economy. The chance to delve further into a historical topic was an incredible experience for me and the honor of being published is by far the greatest I have ever received.”

 

 

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