Archive | history textbook topics

New Report: Only 18% of Colleges Require US History, 3% Economics

images

 

By Bill Korach www.thereportcard.org

 

A majority of U.S. college graduates don’t know the length of a congressional term, what the Emancipation Proclamation was, or which Revolutionary War general led the American troops at Yorktown.

The reason for such failures, according to a recent study: Few schools mandate courses in core subjects like U.S. government, history or economics. The sixth annual analysis of core curricula at 1,098 four-year colleges and universities by the American Council of Trustees and Alumni (ACTA) found that just 18% of schools require American history to graduate, 13% require a foreign language and 3% economics.

 

ACTA this week released the 2014-2015 edition of What Will They Learn?, which peels away reputation to assess what value students are actually getting from college.

 

Too many college rating systems rely on largely extraneous measures like alumni giving or selectivity to determine which colleges top their list,” said Anne D. Neal, ACTA president. “What Will They Learn? looks at the most important data—the strength of a college’s education—to find out which institutions are delivering the tools students will need to succeed in career and community.”

 

Only 23 institutions receive an “A” grade for requiring at least six of seven subjects that are essential to a liberal arts education: literature, composition, economics, math, intermediate level foreign language, science, and American government/history. According to the study, most students graduate from college without exposure to such fundamental courses as American history, basic economics or literature. In too many places, graduates aren’t expected to have any more knowledge of these pivotal courses than a high school student.

 

One wonders what tuition and tax dollars are going toward when most colleges—even public ones—don’t require basic economics, foreign language, American history or even literature,” said Dr. Michael Poliakoff, director of the What Will They Learn? project. “Are we really preparing our nation’s next generation of leaders when our colleges are failing to ensure the most basic skills and knowledge?

Public Institutions:

  • 28% require American history
  • 8% require foreign language
  • 3% require economics

Private Institutions:

  • 10% require American history
  • 17% require foreign language

4% require economics

 

As a result, less than half of students surveyed knew Franklin Roosevelt spearheaded the New Deal, and only 40% knew the date of D-Day. Since only 3% require economics, many students graduate with little comprehension of the free markets and the benefits of capitalism. In fact, opposition to capitalism is often a focus of many courses at colleges today.

 

“It’s much easier for campus administrators to let faculty make decisions rather than to decide with them what are really important and what really matters,” said Mr. Poliakoff. “It’s like saying to a lot of 18-year-olds the cafeteria is open, you kids just eat whatever you like.”

 

 

Facebook Twitter Email Linkedin Delicious Stumbleupon

Posted in history textbook topics, news0 Comments

Harvard Students: US Greater Threat to World than ISIS

Caleb Bonham

Caleb Bonham

(Editor: www.thereportcard.org Caleb Bonham of Campus reform conducted a number of interviews with Harvard students. Bonham asked whether ISIS or America was a greater threat to world peace. Most of the students said “America is a greater threat to world peace than ISIS.” How has Harvard come to a point where their students see America so unfavorably? Harvard has a storied history of contribution to America’s armed forces. 1200 Harvard men have given their lives in service to their country. Tens of thousands of Harvard men have worn the uniform since the 17th century. Harvard has more Medal of Honor recipients than any other university in America. But in those times, American history was taught and American Exceptionalism was unchallenged in institutions of higher learning. Now, history and political science teachers at most universities and in many high schools would rather cut out their own tongues than say anything good about America. That the future leaders of America think so poorly of her does not bode well. Sic Transit Gloria).

 

They got most of their SAT questions right, but students at Harvard blew this lay-up posed by the college blog Campus Reform: Who is the bigger threat to world peace, ISIS or the U.S.?

Various students at the hallowed Ivy League school said they believe that America, not the Muslim fanatics who behead innocent people, is the biggest threat to world peace.

The students were interviewed on the quad by Campus Reform on Saturday, and the shocking video was posted on Tuesday.

“As a Western civilization, we’re to blame for a lot of the problems that we’re facing now,” one student said during an interview. “I don’t think anyone would argue that we didn’t create the problem of ISIS, ourselves.”

Most of the other students interviewed shared the same sentiment — that ISIS would not exist had it not been for the past actions of the U.S.

“American imperialism and our protection of oil interests in the Middle East are destabilizing the region and allowing groups like ISIS to gain power,” said another student.

Caleb Bonham, editor of Campus Reform, conducted the interviews and said that the students’ response is nothing new.

“This video demonstrates the absurdity behind the bash America fad,” Bonham told FoxNews.com. “Unfortunately, too many students think it is intellectual to try and piece together a reason why America is a greater threat than this terrorist organization trying to establish a caliphate through public executions, bombings and beheadings.”

The Islamic State is a splinter group of Al Qaeda that has occupied a large swath of Syria and the northern region of Iraq and has tried to establish a caliphate and rule all Muslims under Shariah Law.

Facebook Twitter Email Linkedin Delicious Stumbleupon

Posted in commentary, history textbook topics, newsComments Off

“Cruelest Ingratitude:” The College Board’s Amnesia about US Military Contribution to History

ENS William Evans, USN Torpedo Squadron 8 Battle of Midway

ENS William Evans, USN
Torpedo Squadron 8
Battle of Midway

(Editor: www.thereportcard.org The new College Board’s AP US History Framework is a slap in the face to those who have give so much and even their all. In June 1942, ENS William R. Evans, Jr. USN who was to give his all at The Battle of Midway as a member of Torpedo Squadron 8 wrote these words to his parents: “American youth has found itself and given itself so at home, the spark may catch, and burst into flame…If the country takes these sacrifices with indifference it will be the cruelest ingratitude the world has ever known.)”

By Jane Robbins, Senior Fellow, American Principles Project and

Larry Krieger, retired AP teacher and author

On June 6, 1984 President Reagan stood at the very spot on the northern coast of France where forty years before Allied soldiers had stormed ashore to liberate Europe from the long night of Nazi tyranny. As an audience of D-Day veterans and world leaders listened, President Reagan introduced the American Rangers who captured the cliffs as “champions who helped free a continent. These are the heroes who helped end a war.”

But starting this year, many of our best students won’t learn about the “boys of Pointe du Hoc.” Although state and local U.S. history standards recognize and

honor the heroism and contributions of American military commanders, servicemen and women, and Congressional Medal of Honor recipients the College Board’s redesigned Advanced Placement U.S. History (APUSH) Framework ignores them. In fact, it essentially ignores all of American military history from the Revolutionary War to the present day.

 

About 500,000 of our nation’s most academically talented high school sophomores and juniors take APUSH. The College Board’s new Framework completely omits all American military commanders and notes just two battles – Gettysburg and Sherman’s March to the Sea. The valor and sacrifices of American servicemen and women are totally neglected. Veterans and their families will be dismayed to learn that Washington does not cross the Delaware, William Travis (a South Carolina hero) does not defend the Alamo, and the GI’s do not liberate Europe. Instead, they will learn that the American Expeditionary Force in World War I “played a relatively limited role in the war” (American casualties totaled about 321,000) and that during World War II the “atomic bomb raised questions about American values.” In addition, the Framework reduces both the Korean War and the Vietnam wars to just one

sentence, while completely omitting the GI Bill, the Berlin Airlift, and the Cuban Missile Crisis.

 

Although the APUSH Framework largely passes over American military history, it does devote extensive coverage to conflicts with Native Americans. For example, the Framework notes five major wars between Native Americans and the colonists and two major battles between Plains Indians and the U.S. Cavalry. Indeed, the Framework devotes more space to diplomatic relations with Native American tribes following the French and Indian War than it does to both World War I and World War II combined. It is also shocking to learn that the Framework omits all mention of General Eisenhower, the Supreme Allied Commander of the D-Day Invasion while noting Chief Little Turtle whose warriors killed 600 U. S. soldiers in America’s worse military disaster against Native American forces.

 

The College Board insists that the APUSH Framework offers a “balanced” presentation of the American story. However, the imbalance between its minimal coverage of traditional American military history and its enhanced coverage of the conflict with Native Americans strongly supports the conclusion that authors of the the Framework had other objectives.

 

The nine professors and high school teachers who wrote the APUSH Framework adopted a consistent revisionist interpretation of American history. In a penetrating analysis of the Framework, Stanley Kurtz explains

that from the revisionist point of view “the heart of our country’s history lies in the pursuit of empire, the dominion over others.” Given this focus upon America as a rising imperialist power, “the formative American moment was

the colonial assault on the Indians…This is why the Framers and the principles of our Constitutional system receive short shrift in the new AP guidelines, and why the conflict between the settlers and the Indians has taken center stage.”

 

The Framework’s neglect of American military history is also closely tied to the document’s aversion for the concept of American exceptionalism. According to this traditional concept, American has a historic mission to be a model and defender of freedom and democracy. American forces thus do not go into battle because they hate the enemy or to seize new territories. Like “the boys of Pointe du Hoc,” American forces risk their lives to defend freedom at home and around the world.

 

The Framework’s neglect of the valor and contributions of America’s military forces is completely unacceptable. During the initial assault on Omaha Beach, the American commander called on his troops to demonstrate extraordinary valor with this legendary command: “Rangers lead the way!” No such inspirational stories appear in the APUSH Framework. We urge veterans and

their families to lead the way in demanding that the College Board withdraw the APUSH Framework and return to a curriculum that rightly honors their bravery and sacrifice.

 

 

 

 

Facebook Twitter Email Linkedin Delicious Stumbleupon

Posted in commentary, history textbook topicsComments Off

SC Veterans: New College Board US History Ignores America’s Military History, Heroism

 

Veteran Army Rangers Pont du Hoc Normandy

Veteran Army Rangers Pont du Hoc Normandy

 

(Editor: www.thereportcard.org South Carolina veterans are urged to protest the New College Board Advance Placement US History Framework (APUSH) this Wednesday. APUSH is a slap in the face to veterans today, and those who paid the ultimate sacrifice. The authors of this monstrosity ignore the sacrifice and heroism that made America free. It even fails to mention D-Day or any other major WWII battle. On Wednesday, the State Board of Education will meet on APUSH. Veterans, you owe it to America’s legacy of freedom and your own hard won legacy to show up and protest APUSH on Wednesday).

 SC Parents Involved in Education and children need you to attend the next

State Board of Education Meeting

 

State Board of Education Building

1429 Senate Street, Columbia

Wednesday, October 8th, 1 PM

 

Arrive by 12:30 to ensure seating

 

The State Board of Education will discuss the new Advanced Placement U.S. History (APUSH) Framework, which ignores the heroism and contributions of American military commanders, servicemen and women, and Congressional Medal of Honor recipients. In fact, it essentially ignores all of American military history from the Revolutionary War to the present day.

 

The College Board’s new Framework totally neglects the valor and sacrifices of the American servicemen and women. Veterans and their families will be dismayed to learn that Washington does not cross the Delaware, William Travis (a South Carolina hero) does not defend the Alamo, and the GI’s do not liberate Europe.

 

Instead, our students will learn that the American Expeditionary Force in World War I “played a relatively limited role in the war” and that during World War II the “atomic bomb raised questions about American values.” In addition, the Framework reduces both the Korean War and the Vietnam War to just one sentence, while completely omitting the GI Bill, the Berlin Airlift, and the Cuban Missile Crisis.

 

College-Boards-AP-US-History-Ignores-Valor-and-Sacrifice-of-Americas-Military

 

 

Sign up prior to the meeting to speak during the
public comment period
or simply show up in uniform – this will speak a thousand words!

Facebook Twitter Email Linkedin Delicious Stumbleupon

Posted in commentary, history textbook topics, newsComments Off

Yale Professor: Patriotism Must be Taught in School

Professor Donald Kagan Yale University

Professor Donald Kagan Yale University

(Editor: www.thereportcard.org Yale history Professor Donald Kagan Ph.D, is an important name among historians, and he believes that anti-Americanism in America’s K-12 and universities must be replaced by a love of country. Prof. Kagan believes that patriotism is a prerequisite for good citizenship. Prof. Kagan deplores the tyranny of the anti-American academic left as exemplified by this quote in the Nation: author Katha Pollitt, who wrote about her daughter wanting to fly the American flag outside their window after 9/11. “Definitely not,” Ms. Pollitt replied. “The flag stands for jingoism and vengeance and war.” The latest attack on patriotism comes from non other than the College Board’s Advanced Placement US History Framework. In APUSH, America is the problem in the world and not the hope of the world).

Adapted from remarks by Yale University historian and professor emeritus Donald Kagan at the Hotchkiss School in Lakeville, Conn., Sept. 18, a talk based in part on a lecture he delivered at Yale on Nov. 4, 2001:

What is an education for? It is a question seldom investigated thoroughly. The ancient philosophers had little doubt: They lived in a city-state whose success and very existence depended on the willingness of citizens to overcome the human tendency to seek their individual, self-interested goals and to make the sacrifices needed for the community’s well-being. Their idea of education, therefore, was moral and civic, not merely instrumental. They reasoned that if a state or community is to be good, its citizens must be good, so they aimed at an education that would produce virtuous people and good citizens.

Some two thousand years later, from the 16th through the 18th centuries, a different group of philosophers in Italy, England and France introduced a powerful new idea. Their world was dominated by ambitious princes and kings who were rapidly asserting ever greater authority over the lives of their people and trampling on the traditional expectations of individuals and communities. In the philosophers’ view, every human being was naturally endowed with three essential rights: to defend his life, liberty and lawfully acquired property.

The responsibility of the state, therefore, was limited and largely negative: to protect the people from external enemies and not to interfere with the rights of individual citizens. Suspicious of the claims of church and state to inculcate virtue as mere devices to serve the selfish interests of their rulers, most philosophers of the Enlightenment believed that moral and civic instruction was not the business of the state.

Among our country’s founders, none was a more devoted son of the Enlightenment than Thomas Jefferson, yet as he considered the needs of the new democratic republic he had helped to establish, he came to very different conclusions. Like the ancient philosophers, Jefferson regarded education as essential to the establishment and maintenance of a good polity— Plato, in “The Republic,” spends many pages on the nature of the citizens’ education, as does Aristotle in “Politics.” Jefferson regarded a proper educational system as so important that in the epitaph he wrote for himself, he did not mention that he had twice been elected president of the United States but proudly recorded that he was the “Father of the University of Virginia.”

Jefferson was convinced that there needed to be an education for all citizens if they and their new kind of popular government were to flourish. He understood that schools must provide “to every citizen the information he needs for the transaction of his own business; to enable him to calculate for himself, and to express and preserve his ideas, his contracts, and accounts, in writing.”

For Jefferson, though, the most important goals of education were civic and moral. In his “Preamble to the 1779 Virginia Bill for the More General Diffusion of Knowledge” he addresses the need for all students to have a political education through the study of the “forms of government,” political history and foreign affairs. This was not meant to be a “value free” exercise; on the contrary, its purpose was to communicate the special virtues of republican representative democracy, the dangers that threatened it, and the responsibility of its citizens to esteem and protect it. This education was to be a common experience for all citizens, rich and poor, for every one of them had natural rights and powers, and every one had to understand and esteem the institutions, laws and traditions of his country if it was to succeed.

It is striking to notice the similarity between Jefferson’s ideas and those of a leader of the last great democracy prior to Jefferson’s fledgling democracy. In 431 B.C., Pericles of Athens described the character of the great democratic society he wished for his community: A city “governed by the many, not the few,” where in the “matter of public honors each man is preferred not on the basis of his class but of his good reputation and merit. No one, moreover, if he has it in him to do some good for the city, is barred because of poverty or humble origins.”

Both great democratic leaders knew that democracy, properly understood, requires a careful balance between the political and constitutional rights of the individual, where absolute equality is the only acceptable principle, and the other aspects of life, where equality of opportunity and reward on the basis of merit are appropriate. They also agreed on the need for individuals to limit their desires and even to curtail their own rights, when necessary, to make sacrifices in the service of the community without whose protection those rights could not exist. In short, democracy and patriotism were inseparable.

These values have not disappeared, but in our own time they have been severely challenged. With the shock of the 9/11 terror attacks, most Americans reacted by clearly and powerfully supporting their government’s determination to use military force to stop such attacks and to prevent future ones. Most Americans also expressed a new unity, an explicit patriotism and love of their country not seen among us for a very long time.

That is not what we saw and heard from the faculties on most elite campuses in the country, and certainly not from the overwhelming majority of people designated as “intellectuals” who spoke up in public. They offered any and all explanations, so long as they indicated that the attackers were really victims, that the fault really rested with the United States.

As most of us have come to know too well, the terrorists of al Qaeda and other jihadists regard America as “the great Satan” and hate the U.S. not only because its power stands in the way of the achievement of their Islamist vision, but also because its free, open, democratic, tolerant, liberal and prosperous society is a powerful competitor for the allegiance of millions of Muslims around the world. No change of American policy, no retreat from the world, no repentance or increase of modesty can change these things.

Yet many members of the intelligentsia decried the outburst of patriotism that greeted the new assault on America. The critics were exemplified by author Katha Pollitt, who wrote in the Oct. 1, 2001, edition of the Nation about her daughter wanting to fly the American flag outside their window after 9/11. “Definitely not,” Ms. Pollitt replied. “The flag stands for jingoism and vengeance and war.”

Such ideas still have a wide currency, reflecting a serious flaw in American education that should especially concern those of us who take some part in it. The encouragement of patriotism is no longer a part of our public educational system, and the cost of that omission has made itself felt. This would have alarmed and dismayed the founders of our country.

Jefferson meant American education to produce a necessary patriotism. Democracy—of all political systems, because it depends on the participation of its citizens in their own government and because it depends on their own free will to risk their lives in its defense—stands in the greatest need of an education that produces patriotism.

I recognize that I have said something shocking. The past half-century has seen a sharp turn away from what had been traditional attitudes toward the purposes and functions of education. Our schools have retreated from the idea of moral education, except for some attempts at what is called “values clarification,” which is generally a cloak for moral relativism verging on nihilism of the sort that asserts that whatever feels good is good.

Even more vigorously have the schools fled from the idea of encouraging patriotism. In the intellectual climate of our time, the very suggestion brings contemptuous sneers or outrage, depending on the listener’s mood. There is no end of quoting Samuel Johnson’s famous remark that “Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel,” but no recollection of Boswell’s explanation that Johnson “did not mean a real and generous love for our country, but that pretended patriotism which so many, in all ages and countries, have made a cloak for self-interest.”

Many have been the attacks on patriotism for intolerance, arrogance and bellicosity, but that is to equate it with its bloated distortion, chauvinism. My favorite dictionary defines the latter as “militant and boastful devotion to and glorification of one’s country,” but defines a patriot as “one who loves, supports, and defends his country.”

That does not require us to denigrate or attack any other country, nor does it require us to admire our own uncritically. But just as an individual must have an appropriate love of himself if he is to perform well, an appropriate love of his family if he and it are to prosper, so, too, must he love his country if it is to survive. Neither family nor nation can flourish without love, support and defense, so that an individual who has benefited from those institutions not only serves his self-interest but also has a moral responsibility to give them his support.

Thus are assaults on patriotism failures of character. They are made by privileged people who enjoy the full benefits offered by the country they deride and detest, but they lack the basic decency to pay it the allegiance and respect that honor demands. But honor, of course, is also an object of their derision.

Every country requires a high degree of cooperation and unity among its citizens if it is to achieve the internal harmony that every good society requires. Most countries have relied on the common ancestry and traditions of their people as the basis of their unity, but the United States can rely on no such commonality. We are an enormously diverse and varied people, almost all immigrants or the descendants of immigrants. The great strengths provided by this diversity are matched by great dangers. We are always vulnerable to divisions among us that can be exploited to set one group against another and destroy the unity and harmony that have allowed us to flourish.

We live in a time when civic devotion has been undermined and national unity is under attack. The idea of a common American culture, enriched by the diverse elements that compose it but available equally to all, is under assault, and attempts are made to replace it with narrower and politically divisive programs that are certain to set one group of Americans against another.

The answer to these problems and our only hope for the future must lie in education, which philosophers have rightly put at the center of the consideration of justice and the good society. We look to education to solve the pressing current problems of our economic and technological competition with other nations, but we must not neglect the inescapable political, and ethical, effects of education.

We in the academic community have too often engaged in miseducation. If we encourage separatism, we will get separation and the terrible conflict in society it will bring. If we encourage rampant individualism to trample on the need for a community and common citizenship, if we ignore civic education, the forging of a single people, the building of a legitimate patriotism, we will have selfish individuals, heedless of the needs of others, the war of all against all, the reluctance to work toward the common good and to defend our country when defense is needed.

 

The civic sense that America needs can come only from a common educational effort. In telling the story of the American political experience, we must insist on the honest search for truth; we must permit no comfortable self-deception or evasion, no seeking of scapegoats. The story of this country’s vision of a free, democratic republic and of its struggle to achieve it need not fear the most thorough examination and can proudly stand comparison with that of any other land.

In the long and deadly battle against those who hate Western ideals, and hate America in particular, we must be powerfully armed, morally as well as materially. To sustain us through the worst times we need courage and unity, and these must rest on a justified and informed patriotism.

 

 

Facebook Twitter Email Linkedin Delicious Stumbleupon

Posted in commentary, history textbook topicsComments Off

New College Board US History Framework Defames America

“Concerned citizens cannot allow the unelected, unaccountable College Board to force a biased course with a clear political agenda into American classrooms.”

 

Jane Robbins

Jane Robbins

By Larry Krieger and Jane Robbins

September 17, 2014

 

In an effort to prop up its anti-American history curriculum rewrite, the College Board has started a proxy war. Its staff have been marshaling their contact lists and holding private meetings to prompt education pundits and professors to publish articles defending a low-quality, high-animosity curriculum shift. But the College Board’s defenders employ half-truths and untruths.

State board of education members in Texas and state legislators in Tennessee are spearheading a national movement to roll back the new AP U. S. History (APUSH) Framework. The College Board, the creator and owner of this curriculum, has responded so far not with real changes that address the problems inherent to their rewrite, but with talking points. Everyone knows talking points are a superficial substitute for real answers. But if talking heads repeat a canned answer enough times, the public might be duped into accepting it as a fact.

Five Reasons The College Board’s U.S. History Talking Points Are Wrong

 

What This Is All About

We began our critique of the College Board’s redesigned APUSH Framework back in March. This is the U.S. history course that half a million of the nation’s brightest high school students take every year. For most students this is their first and last formal encounter with a comprehensive U.S. history course. The Framework document defines what the end-of-course exams will include and therefore what successful teachers must cover and successful students must learn. As with all AP courses, which are now a staple of U.S. high schools, students can typically earn college credit for exemplary exam performance.

The College Board’s ‘required knowledge’ focuses on identity group grievances, conflict, exploitation, and examples of oppression.

 

Instead of resorting to talking points, we documented our warning that “a dramatic, unilateral change is taking place in the content of the APUSH course.” We labeled the change a “curricular coup” because the new Framework replaced the previous and long-used five-page Topic Outline with its detailed (and growing) 142-page document that “defines, discusses, and interprets” what the College Board calls “the required knowledge for each period.”

The redesigned Framework usurps state curriculum standards by unilaterally decreeing what students should know with no public input or consent. State standards across America, while including the dark events in American history, also celebrate our nation’s founders, core values, and heroic servicemen and women. In contrast, the College Board’s “required knowledge” inculcates a consistently negative view of American history that focuses on identity group grievances, conflict, exploitation, and examples of oppression.

At first, the College Board ignored our criticisms. But an alarmed public (see here and here) heard us. Soon citizens across America began to question the Framework and see its many flaws. They were shocked and concerned to learn, among other flaws, that the new Framework omits pivotal heroes such as Benjamin Franklin and Martin Luther King Jr., while using a “transnational” or globalist perspective to reinterpret American history. After a long silence, the College Board unleashed a platoon of proxy warriors armed with an arsenal of canned talking points to disguise how unbalanced the new Framework actually is.

  1. Critics Are Not a ‘Small Fringe Group’

Instead of addressing the real issues of balance and academic quality, the proxy warriors began by attacking the people who dared to question the College Board. In a Texas Tribune article ironically titled “Putting Politics Ahead of Facts on AP U. S. History,” Susan Griffin, the executive director of the National Council of Social Studies, dismisses Framework critics as a “small fringe group” that deliberately misrepresents the Framework.

It is getting a bit crowded out here on the ‘fringe.’

 

Griffin has apparently not been closely following the growing chorus of Framework critics. It is getting a bit crowded out here on the “fringe.” Among those issuing substantive critiques are Dr. Peter Wood, (here) president of the National Association of Scholars; Dr. Ron Radosh, (here) a historian and fellow at the Hudson Institute; Dr. Stanley Kurtz, (here and here) an investigative journalist and senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center; and authors of a Pioneer Institute study on American history instruction (here): Dr. Ralph Ketcham, Maxwell Professor Emeritus of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University and a nationally respected scholar of James Madison (Madison, along with most of the Founding Fathers, doesn’t appear in the Framework); Dr. Anders Lewis, history department head at the Advanced Math and Science Academy Charter School in Massachusetts; and Dr. Sandra Stotsky, professor emerita at the University of Arkansas.

All of these scholars have criticized the new APUSH Framework for presenting a slanted, intellectually dishonest view of American history designed to showcase negative events while minimizing and often ignoring positive achievements. They have been joined by the Republican National Committee and a growing number of state legislators and school board members.

College Board opponents have credibility, and our numbers are growing.

  1. Persistent Negativity Is One-Sided

For five months, we critiqued the Framework while the College Board chose to ignore us. We pointed out what was wrong with the changes, including College Board’s failure to identify the people who actually wrote the new Framework. Finally, the APUSH Curriculum Development and Assessment Committee (nine college professors and high school teachers) published an open letter claiming authorship. They insisted their rewrite provides a “balanced” portrayal of American history. But “balance” would require the APUSH Framework to acknowledge both the nation’s founding principles and its continuing struggles to be faithful to those principles. The Framework manifestly does no such thing

The Framework ‘is relentless in castigating Europeans, particularly the English, as racist.’

 

We urge those who blindly accept the “balanced document” talking point to read the new Framework’s Concept Outline on pages 28 through 80. The Pioneer study authors did, and were appalled. They found the Framework “is relentless in castigating Europeans, particularly the English, as racist. The English, the curriculum notes, developed a ‘rigid racial hierarchy.’ It also notes the ‘strong belief in British racial and cultural superiority’ and the ‘racial stereotyping and the development of strict racial categories among British colonists…’” As these authors point out, the Framework either ignores or only briefly mentions the rise of democratic institutions, the emergence of a federal system of government, and the colonists’ growing commitment to religious freedom. The new “redesigned” APUSH course sidelines or utterly ignores these basic concepts that are essential to understanding U.S. history.

After surveying the Framework’s many biases and omissions, these scholars conclude (page 17): “The new APUSH curriculum represents the bad and the ugly but not the good of American history. The result is a portrait of America as a dystopian society—one riddled with racism, violence, hypocrisy, greed, imperialism, and injustice. Stories of national triumph, great feats of learning, and the legacies of some of America’s great heroes—men and women who overcame many obstacles to create a better nation—are either completely ignored or given brief mention.”

This negative account of American history did not happen by accident. Kurtz (here and here) has established a clear ideological link between the Framework authors, New York University history professor Thomas Bender, and University of Colorado history professor Fred Anderson. Bender and Anderson reject American exceptionalism. Bender considers American exceptionalism a “gross oversimplification” and calls for a new international, or global, perspective of American history. Anderson believes American exceptionalism is a myth that disguises America’s true imperialistic intentions.

Deeply influenced by both Bender and Anderson, the Framework authors removed virtually every example of American exceptionalism. While the Framework’s 52-page Concept Outline does have space to name 51 historic figures, it deliberately omits key leaders. Readers will also find that seminal expressions of American exceptionalism ranging from Winthrop’s “City Upon a Hill” sermon to Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address and even King’s “I Have a Dream Speech” have also been omitted.

The new Framework has a clear bias and left-leaning agenda. It’s that simple.

  1. Circumventing State Standards

The College Board knows its new Framework is not aligned with standards states have legally adopted as guides for U.S. history courses and exams. For example, a report commissioned by the College Board found that the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) requires 181 elements from the Civil War to the present that are not in its APUSH Framework. An analysis of the Alabama Standards for U. S. History revealed 134 required elements that are not specifically mentioned in the new APUSH Framework.

Teachers and students will rightly conclude that the quickest way to a top score on the exam is to focus on the Framework, not on material from state standards.

 

For the College Board and its proxies, this content mismatch is a problem. What if citizens and state officials object to having their history standards usurped by the new Framework? So the proxies stress that the 142-page Framework “is not a curriculum.” They then repeat College Board President David Coleman’s chief talking point from an August email statement, his first public discussion of the matter: “it is just a framework, requiring teachers to populate it with content required by their local standards and priorities.”

Coleman’s “flexibility doctrine,” though, clashed with the categorical, bold-print statement on page two of the Framework: “Beginning with the May 2015 AP U.S. History Exam, no AP U.S. History question will require students to know historical content that falls outside this concept outline.” After months of ignoring this inherent contradiction, the College Board finally announced it would delete this statement. But everything else about the Framework remains the same: a new national curriculum overriding state standards, a deep leftist bias, and the essential structure of the exam, which allows students little or no opportunity to present content outside of the “required knowledge” of the Framework. Teachers and students will rightly conclude that the quickest way to a top score on the exam is to focus on the Framework, not on material from state standards.

The Framework circumvents state standards and is so fatally flawed that teachers cannot give kids good instruction when teaching this AP course.

  1. No Knowledge? No Problem!

College Board’s defenders invite people to examine the just-released APUSH sample exam, which they insist will provide “evidence of our determination that AP students must be exposed to a rich and inclusive body of historical knowledge.” Griffin proudly notes that the “first question on the exam highlights Benjamin Franklin’s Autobiography.” And in a New York Times article, Dr. James R. Grossman adds, “For good measure, one can find Washington’s Farewell Address.”

But these talking points are highly misleading. The Franklin quote describes his impression of a sermon delivered by George Whitefield. The three questions accompanying this quote have nothing to do with Franklin’s life and achievements. If the quote had been from LeBron James, students would have approached the questions in exactly the same way. No knowledge of Benjamin Franklin is needed. And if Coleman and company want to suggest the sample exam does require knowledge of Franklin, how do they square that with the assurance that it won’t test content not contained in the Framework? Where does Franklin’s name appear in those pages? Oh, what a tangled web we weave…

The use of Washington’s Farewell Address illustrates the close link between the Framework and the sample exam. Viewed from the Framework’s globalist perspective agenda, Washington’s Farewell Address damaged American foreign policy. If one reads the sample exam, it appears its committee (which also includes Framework authors) did not select the Farewell Address to highlight one of Washington’s achievements. Instead, they chose it to illustrate the dangers of a foreign policy based solely on national interests. From their globalist perspective, the Farewell Address led to America’s disastrous refusal to join the League of Nations (Question 31) and was finally repudiated by America’s involvement in World War II and new commitment to a role in global affairs (Question 33).

The close link between the Framework’s biases and the exam is not limited to eighteenth-century Founders. The Framework informs readers, “President Ronald Reagan rejected détente with increased defense spending, military action, and bellicose rhetoric….” The sample exam then excerpts from Reagan’s “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall” speech to guide students to conclude that Reagan’s speech “best reflects” his “increased assertiveness and bellicosity.”

In short, the sample exam confirms the pervasive biases found in the Framework.

  1. Survey Course Versus Boutique Leftist Seminar

Some proxy warriors suggest that teaching a broad perspective of American history is not the role of an APUSH course. (This argument contradicts the previous talking point that the Framework incorporates state history standards.) Instead, the proxy warriors argue, the course should assume students have already been exposed to the “facts” in their state standards and now are ready for instruction in the “historical thinking skills” that pass for scholarship in much of higher education. The New York Times article goes so far as to celebrate the new Framework’s focus on the kind of identity politics present in some leftist professors’ classes.

But this focus is not what APUSH has traditionally tried to accomplish, nor what a good advanced high school class should strive for. APUSH has always been a survey course in U.S. History that has allowed teachers to incorporate state standards to cover the breadth of information an educated American should have. Since APUSH is the only dedicated U.S. history class many students will ever take, its radical conversion to an ideological polemic cheats these students out of understanding the richness of their nation’s history.

High school courses should not be held hostage by a small group of revisionist college professors.

An Unprecedented Situation

College Board’s defenders seem to believe that repeating something endlessly will turn fiction into fact. But their talking points wilt under scrutiny. Talking points are fleeting; principles are enduring. We stand on two basic principles. First, we unalterably oppose the College Board’s attempt to reinvent American history for ideological purposes. Second, we support a balanced APUSH curriculum that includes a full presentation of America’s core values, key leaders, and seminal documents.

For all its sound and fury, the College Board has thus far refused to address our core criticisms. Concerned citizens cannot allow the unelected, unaccountable College Board to force a biased course with a clear political agenda into American classrooms. If the College Board is allowed to remain above the will of the people, it will become an unaccountable arbiter of a nationalized American history curriculum.

 

Larry Krieger is a retired, award-winning Advanced Placement history teacher, and an AP exam coach. Jane Robbins is a senior fellow for the American Principles Project.

 

 

 

Facebook Twitter Email Linkedin Delicious Stumbleupon

Posted in commentary, history textbook topics1 Comment

Educational Standards: How About Tried & True The Concord Review?

 

Will Fitzhugh Publisher, The Concord Review

Will Fitzhugh Publisher, The Concord Review

(Editor: www.thereportcard.org My friend Will Fitzhugh had a simple yet profound idea: recognize outstanding high school writing by setting the bar high. In 1987, Mr. Fitzhugh, a Harvard man of the old school, started publishing the best high school papers in America under the banner of The Concord Review. TCR has been universally praised by authors like David McCullough because it demands and gets the best. Students submit 6000-15,000 researched and footnoted history papers to TCR. The best get published, and the kids use that accomplishment to get into the best colleges in the world. Sadly, today’s high school students rarely write more than 2 pages which is one reason their knowledge and writing skills are so poor. How about school standards that aim high for a change)?

 

By Marc Tucker on September 4, 2014 1:08 PM

National Council on Education and the Economy

 

 

Years ago, when we were putting our New Standards project together, Phil Daro, the director of New Standards, and the standards design team, headed by Ann Borthwick, decided to do something very important.  They built the standards around examples of student work that met the standards.  We had statements of the usual sort—the student should know this and be able to do that—but they felt that these statements were necessarily abstract.  To know what they really meant, both student and teacher would need examples of work that actually met the standards.  Ann had previously directed the effort to build the famous Victorian Certificate standards in Victoria, Australia, which peppered their standards document with examples, but New Standards was the first to make the examples the very heart of the work.  

Our standards consisted mainly of a series of performance tasks given to students and, for each task, an example of exemplary student work (actual student work, in fact).  Each piece of student work was annotated to show which piece of the student work illustrated the relevant standard, with a note about why the work met the standard.  Any given piece of student work would typically contain sections illustrating several different standards.

Both students and teachers would look at our standards books, and, say, over and over again, “Oh, now I know what they mean.  I can do that.”  Or, they might say, “I cannot do it yet, but now that I know what is wanted, I know what I have to do to meet the standard.”  Teachers would post examples of work that met the standards on classroom walls.  Students would critique their own work in relation to the examples.  It was the examples, not the declarative statements of the standards, that really “set the standard.”

In a way, there was nothing new in this.  For many years prior, most of the top performing countries had issued their standards and then published—nationally, sometimes in the newspapers—both the questions asked—all of them—and the highest scoring responses, often in the form of short essays, because all or most of the questions demanded essays or worked out problems, not checked boxes in multiple choice format.  Both teachers and students in those countries routinely pored over the answers with the best marks to understand what the people scoring the tests were looking for.  Because of the way the questions were asked and the kind of constructed response that was required, there was no way to “test prep” for these exams.  The only way to succeed on them was to demonstrate real command of the material and be able to respond with the kind of analysis, synthesis and just plain good writing that was called for.

I was very disappointed when I saw that the Common Core did not follow the New Standards example.  Like the Victorian Certificate, some examples were included, but the standards were not built around them.  Most important, I see that, although the two consortia building tests set to the Common Core will be releasing sample questions, most of the prompts will call for choices among multiple choice responses.  There will be many fewer performance tasks calling for open-ended responses of the kind just described than they had promised when they began their work.  I do not doubt that their tests will be much better than the vast majority of the tests that states have been using for accountability purposes, but they will still, in my opinion, fall well short of what they could and should have been had it not been for federal policy that requires far more testing than will be found in the any of the high performing countries.

But we do have an example of the kind of approach to standard-setting I admire that should be getting much more attention than it has yet received: the work of Will Fitzhugh, publisher of The Concord Review, a journal of high school student history essays refereed by Fitzhugh.  I say “refereed” because Fitzhugh’s standards are very high and the quality of the essays is consistently remarkable.

The Concord Review is arguably the world standard for history writing at the high school level, a true benchmark.  Fitzhugh has published standards for the essays that appear there, but the published essays themselves really set the standard.  Students and teachers know that, and they study the essays hard to understand what it takes to get an essay published in the journal.  I might say that the standard is not just a standard for history writing, but, at the same time, a standard for writing.

If you have read what I have written here with a note of skepticism, perhaps you will believe the testimony of a high school history teacher, John Wardle, head of the history department at Northern Secondary School in Toronto, Ontario (I forgot to mention that publication in The Concord Review is open to high school students all over the world, which it why it can reasonably claim to set an international benchmark for the quality of high school history writing).  Here’s what Wardle had to say in a letter to Fitzhugh:

”Please find enclosed four essays for your consideration.  All of these girls were students in my Modern Western Civilization class here at Northern Secondary School.

I would also like to compliment you on the consistently high standards of The Concord Review. Our collection of them has proven to be a terrific tool for my senior students.  For a few, it gives them ideas for topics of their own.  For many more, it provides outstanding material for their own research.  For all of them it is the benchmark against which they can measure their own writing and historical skills.  Since we began setting aside class time for reading them, student essay writing has improved considerably.

From a teacher’s point of view, it is tremendously rewarding to see students get engrossed in topics of their own choosing, enthusiastically pursue them and then produce strong, correct papers.  The discussions before, during and especially after this creative process are always memorable.  Almost without exception, the students feel that, by the end, they have gained a solid understanding and mastery of a particular aspect of history.  By producing first-rate work, they also know they are ready for, and able to handle, post-secondary education.

When I returned their essays this year, for example the first question they posed each other was not ‘What was your mark?’ but rather ‘Can I read your paper?’ They spent the entire 76 minute period sharing essays, exchanging thoughts and genuinely learning from each other.  I merely watched and listened. Professionally, it was a wonderful experience.  As a catalyst, The Concord Review deserves a great deal of the credit for this kind of academic success.”

For years, Fitzhugh has been trying to find a foundation that would supply him with the modest amount of money needed to find a successor to run The Concord Review when he retires, which will happen rather sooner than later, as Fitzhugh is getting on in years.  So far, there have been no takers.  Which is deeply puzzling to me.  If I were a foundation that had expressed an interest in doing whatever is necessary to bring American education up to a world standard, especially if I were interested in promoting what has come to be called “deeper learning,” I do not think I could find a more productive use of my funds than to invest them in the preservation of this treasure, truly a global benchmark not only in the field of history but in the kind of disciplined inquiry and first class writing that ought to be the hallmark of high standards everywhere.

 

Facebook Twitter Email Linkedin Delicious Stumbleupon

Posted in commentary, history textbook topicsComments Off

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?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Facebook Twitter Email Linkedin Delicious Stumbleupon

Posted in commentary, history textbook topics, newsComments Off

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

images

(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

Facebook Twitter Email Linkedin Delicious Stumbleupon

Posted in commentary, history textbook topics, news1 Comment

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, 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