Archive | history textbook topics

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 Salaita’s offer of employment was revoked by The U of I after this tweet became known: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.

Facebook Twitter Email Linkedin Delicious Stumbleupon

Posted in commentary, history textbook topics, news0 Comments

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.

 

 

Facebook Twitter Email Linkedin Delicious Stumbleupon

Posted in commentary, history textbook topics, news0 Comments

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.

 

 

Facebook Twitter Email Linkedin Delicious Stumbleupon

Posted in civics textbook topics, history textbook topics, newsComments Off

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.

Facebook Twitter Email Linkedin Delicious Stumbleupon

Posted in history textbook topics, newsComments Off

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!

 

Facebook Twitter Email Linkedin Delicious Stumbleupon

Posted in commentary, history textbook topics, newsComments Off

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.

Facebook Twitter Email Linkedin Delicious Stumbleupon

Posted in civics textbook topics, commentary, history textbook topicsComments Off

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?
 
Facebook Twitter Email Linkedin Delicious Stumbleupon

Posted in commentary, history textbook topics1 Comment

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.”

 

 

Facebook Twitter Email Linkedin Delicious Stumbleupon

Posted in commentary, history textbook topicsComments Off

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 www.thereportcard.org

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.

 

Changes

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.

Pre-pre-calculus

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.

 

 

Facebook Twitter Email Linkedin Delicious Stumbleupon

Posted in civics textbook topics, commentary, history textbook topics, newsComments Off

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

 

Unknown-1 

(Editor: www.thereportcard.org 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: 

http://heartland.org/policy-documents/responses-larry-krieger-and-points-made-httpeducation-curriculum-reform-government-

 

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.

 

 

 

 

Facebook Twitter Email Linkedin Delicious Stumbleupon

Posted in civics textbook topics, history textbook topics, newsComments Off

Click the “LIKE” button below to follow us on Facebook

Donate to The Report Card

Subscribe to Newsletters


Social links powered by Ecreative Internet Marketing