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Okla. Lawmakers Move to Ban Advanced Placement U.S. History

Cross-posted from the Curriculum Matters blog

By Liana Heitin

The debate over the new AP U.S. History framework is now fully rolling through the Southern states.

Earlier this week, Oklahoma's House education committee voted to approve a bill that would effectively forbid schools from teaching the new Advanced Placement U.S. History framework released by the College Board.

HB1380, which has yet to be voted on in the full House, would bar the use of state funds on "equipment, instructional materials, course development, professional development or training, examination awards, or examination scholarship[s] for the AP U.S. History course" in its current form. The course and exam, known as APUSH, were revised by the College Board for the 2014-15 school year

Further, the proposal directs the state board of education to require U.S. history courses across the state to use specific historical documents, which are listed in the bill. Those include:

  • the Declaration of Independence
  • the Bill of Rights
  • John Winthrop's sermon, "A Model of Christian Charity"
  • the overview from Democracy in America by Alexis de Tocqueville
  • the poem, "The New Colossus," by Emma Lazarus,
  • Martin Luther King, Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech 
  • two speeches by President Lyndon B. Johnson
  • three speeches by President Ronald Reagan
  • President George W. Bush's address to the nation on September 11, 2001.

The bill was introduced by Rep. Dan Fisher, a Republican from Yukon. According to the Tulsa World, Fisher said the AP U.S. history course framework "emphasizes 'what is bad about America.'"

Earlier this month, Sen. William Ligon, a Republican state senator in Georgia, introduced a resolution calling on the College Board to return to its previous course framework, saying the new framework "reflects a radically revisionist view of American history that emphasizes negative aspects of our nation's history while omitting or minimizing positive aspects." (Both Sen. Ligon and I appeared on Georgia Public Broadcasting's On Second Thought to speak about this Feb. 6.) 

The Republican National Committee has also condemned the framework, using the same language as that in the Georgia resolution. And the Texas state board of education also approved a measure in September requiring high schools to teach the state curriculum rather than the APUSH framework. 

The APUSH framework caused an uproar in Douglas County, Colo., as well a few months ago. There, the school board proposed setting up a committee to review the framework, with the goal of ensuring it promotes patriotism and downplays civil disobedience. In great irony, hundreds of students and many teachers walked out in protest of what they saw as an attempt at censorship.

For more on the specifics of what's new in the APUSH framework, and how it's become a political issue, listen to the piece from WNYC's On the Media below.

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