College board mandates left-wing narrative for AP U.S. History

The College Board, the private company that produces the SAT test and the various Advanced Placement exams, is effectively requiring that AP U.S. History be taught from a hard-left perspective. It is doing so through a newly-issued “Framework” for its AP U.S. History exam. I warned of this development here.

Stanley Kurtz provides the back story. He points out that the 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.

Bender, a history professor at NYU, is (in Kurtz’s words) “the leading spokesman for the movement to internationalize the U.S. History curriculum at every educational level.” He is also a leading critic of “American exceptionalism,” which celebrates America as a model, vindicator, and at times the chief defender of ordered liberty and self-government in the world.

By contrast, Bender views America as (in his words) just “a province among the provinces that make up the world.” It is this view (and worse) that he has successfully urged the College Board to coerce high schools into teaching to our nation’s best young history students.

The La Pietra Report was the fruit of a project to create an internationalized U.S. history curriculum. Kurtz says that approximately one-third of the participants who forged the new curriculum were non-Americans. One of them was Cuban.

The co-chairs of the committee that redesigned the AP U.S. History Framework are also enthusiasts of the “internationalization” of U.S. history and enemies of American exceptionalism. According to Kurtz, Dickson was an original member of the joint panel seeking to advance the goals of the La Pietra Report.

On behalf of a joint advisory board of the Organization of American Historians and the AP (OAH-AP Joint Advisory Board), he co-edited a book called America on the World Stage: A Global Approach to U.S. History. Bender wrote the introduction, in which he explained the philosophy behind the La Pietra Report.

As for Sinke, a history professor at Florida State, she wrote the portion of the AP Framework on immigration. Kurtz reports that she tells the tale of an early 20th Century ethnically Dutch woman who immigrated to America, merely to leave and go elsewhere. She says her goal is to teach us “to think beyond national histories and the terms that are caught up in them.”

In other words, we shouldn’t get caught up in the idea that there was something exceptional about America that induced immigrants to come here. We were just another place to go — “just another pleasant country somewhere on the UN Roll Call between Albania and Zimbabwe,” to borrow a phrase used by both George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton to mock those who deny American exceptionalism.

Lawrence Charap, the College Board’s AP Curriculum and Content Development Director who was in overall charge of the AP U.S. History redesign process, also holds the United States in low esteem. Kurtz notes that he contributed a piece on American cultural imperialism to America on the World Stage: A Global Approach to U.S. History:

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.

And for Charap, our “victims” include the people in Central and Eastern Europe who were oppressed by the Soviet Union. This narrative goes beyond denying American exceptionalism. It is squarely anti-American.

The College Board’s “curricular coup” occurred soon after it selected David Coleman as its new president. Coleman is the architect of the Common Core. There should be no doubt that the Common Core is driven by a leftist agenda.

Americans have started to figure out, albeit belatedly, the harms associated with that project, and they are beginning to fight back. But how do we fight back against the anti-American U.S. History curriculum being imposed by the College Board?

States can reject the common core. But if high schools want to offer AP U.S. History (and it is to their advantage and the advantage of students that they do so), they must teach it as the College Board prescribes. Otherwise, students will be at a severe disadvantage when they take the end-of-the-year exam upon which college credit may depend.

As Kurtz concludes:

The brief five-page conceptual guideline [that] 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.

One way or another, this cannot be allowed to stand.

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