Column: Attempts to "patriotize" AP U.S. History cross the line
The goal of an American History course should be to provide an objective, well-rounded view of America as a whole, not just what Congress wants you to see.
Feb. 25, 2015
The opinions expressed by The Maneater columnists do not represent the opinions of The Maneater editorial board.
Earlier last week, a legislative committee in Oklahoma voted to ban history.
The bill in question, House Bill 1380, prohibits the funding of Advanced Placement United States History courses in Oklahoma public schools. State Rep. Dan Fisher, R-Yukon, spearheaded the bill, and he denounced the college-credit course because he claims it emphasizes the negative aspects of U.S. history and displays the country as “a nation of oppressors and exploiters."
College Board, the nonprofit organization that administers the AP tests and course materials, changed some of the U.S. History course that went into effect this past school year. Conservatives across the country have spoken out in outrage over the fact that the course now seems “left-leaning” and “biased.”
The new bill, along with refusing to fund the class, seeks to implement a new history curriculum for Oklahoma public schools that includes specified documents to study. Such documents include speeches by Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush, with the exclusion of references from their Democratic contemporaries. Although the legislative committee voted to pass the bill, Fisher withdrew it later that week, vowing to rewrite it because he claimed it was “poorly worded.”
There is no combination of words that Fisher can assemble to make this bill seem like a better idea. Eliminating the funding to a history course because it doesn’t align perfectly with how someone thinks America should be portrayed isn’t a legitimate bill proposal. History is meant to be objective and state all the facts, good and bad, about what happened in the past. There is nothing that Fisher can do to change some of the negative aspects of our country. They need to be taught to high school students so they can gain a better understanding of the world and how America played a part in historical events.
It’s disappointing to note that Oklahoma is not the only one wrestling with this legislation. The Texas state education agency pushed the College Board to rewrite the AP U.S. History course, and in Colorado, a school board ordered the College Board to promote “patriotism” and the “benefits of free enterprise” instead of encouraging “civil disorder, social strife, or disregard of the law."
Furthermore, in August, the Republican National Committee appealed to Congress to withhold funding to College Board because they deemed the AP course “un-patriotic."
It seems hypocritical of these state courts to claim they are combating biased and incorrect historical interpretations when they are looking to force their opinions into the school system. They want the U.S. to appear in a more positive light, so they are going to be choosing certain documents and curriculum standards in order to achieve this. The College Board is looking to enlighten and educate students about all aspects of American history. They are relaying an objective historical perspective for a U.S. history course. Eliminating this class because it tells the complete truth about America would yield frightening results.
Our country needs the AP U.S. History course. This class educates our youth about the problems of America and how they can be improved. It encourages debate about the perception of the U.S. and how our country can become better and stronger. By eliminating this course, the government is putting strict censors on what our students can and cannot be taught. It may lead to biased, Americanized history classes, which is not the principles this country reiterates in its Constitution. History is not about being “pro-American" — it’s about being pro-truth.