The College Board, the Common Core, and “the world without America”

Years ago, Richard Rorty, the left-wing pragmatist philosopher, defended the leftist slant in university instruction by arguing that it was an antidote to the rah-rah, pro-American indoctrination students received in high school. In Hegelian-Marxist terms, high school instruction was the “thesis,” college instruction was the “antithesis,” and students could work out their own “synthesis.”

Rorty’s argument was characteristically clever. But the content of high school education was always destined to ape the university model. And so it has, in many localities. But local control of education has prevented a total rout. Until now.

The teaching of American history is, of course, ground zero in left’s battle to indoctrinate students. And the left is unleashing the ultimate weapon in this battle.

Stanley Kurtz reports:

Although it has barely registered yet in our public debates, the teaching of American history in our high schools has just been seized in what a few sharp-eyed critics rightly call a “curricular coup.” The College Board, the private company that creates the SAT test and the various Advance Placement tests, has issued a new set of guidelines that is about to turn the teaching of American history into exactly the sort of grievance-based pedagogy that [Dinesh] D’Souza decries in his film [America: Imagine the World Without Her].

Leftist academics have finally figured out a way to circumvent state and local control over America’s schools and effectively impose progressive political indoctrination on the entire country. Once the AP U.S. History test demands blame-America-first answers, public and private schools alike will be forced to construct an American history curriculum that “teaches to the test.”

What is the evidence that the “curricular coup” imposes the left’s version of American history? Kurtz reports:

George Washington, a key figure in D’Souza’s film, barely makes an appearance in the new AP U.S. History Guidelines. Figures like Benjamin Franklin and James Madison are completely omitted. The Declaration of Independence is presented chiefly as an illustration of the colonists’ belief in their own superiority.

Slavery and the treatment of Native Americans are at center stage. At times, the presentation of the New Deal and the Reagan era seems to come straight out of a Democratic Party press office.

If you want your child to be admitted to a top quality college, you may soon feel pressure to parrot this line.

In short, as Kurtz says, “The College Board is pushing U.S. history as far to the left as it can get away with at the high school level.” It is thereby “creating a kind of feeder system that perfectly primes students for the more openly ideological training they’ll be getting at college.”

This isn’t the vision Richard Rorty articulated.

What is to be done? Kurtz offers this prescription:

Vocal protest at the state and local levels is needed. State legislatures may have to step in to prevent the effective seizure of their curricula by the College Board. Efforts to break the College Board’s monopoly on AP tests may also be in order. Is a market opening up for an alternative set of AP tests?…

Over and above electoral politics, here is something you can do. Join or create a movement to protest and combat the effort of the College Board to impose an ideologically one-sided American history curriculum on our country’s schools.

I would add this: fight against the Common Core. The College Board pulled off its “curricular coup” soon after selecting David Coleman as its new president. Coleman is the architect of the Common Core.

I agree with Kurtz that the de facto federalizing of the K-12 curriculum through the Common Core would create an opening for those seeking to nationalize leftist indoctrination in our schools. In this scenario, the left’s anti-American indoctrination would likely extend beyond students taking AP American history to every student in America.

At that point, we will have to imagine the world without America.

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