Education

Oklahoma Bill Banning AP US History Would Make Students Study Ten Commandments, 3 Speeches By Reagan

CREDIT: AP

An Oklahoma bill banning Advanced Placement U.S. History would also require schools to instruct students in a long list of “foundational documents,” including the Ten Commandments, two sermons and three speeches by Ronald Reagan.

The bill, authored by Oklahoma Rep. Dan Fisher, designates a total of 58 documents that “shall form the base level of academic content for all United States History courses offered in the schools in the state.” Many of the texts are uncontroversial and undoubtedly covered by the Advanced Placement U.S. History course, such as the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence and Gettysburg address. But the bill also has an ideological and religious bent. In addition to 3 speeches by Reagan, the curriculum as includes a speech by George W. Bush but nothing from any Democratic president since Lyndon Johnson.

Fisher’s bill was approved by the Education committee on an 11-4 vote.

Opposition to the AP U.S. History test “can be traced back to retired high-school history teacher Larry S. Krieger.” On a conference call marshaling opposition to the test, Krieger said it offered “a consistently negative view of American history that highlights oppressors and exploiters.” Krieger teamed up with Jane Robbins, an anti-Common Core activists. (Some, including Oklahoma lawmakers, have conflated the Advanced Placement test with Common Core.) They have their own website: http://opposenewapstandards.us.

Krieger, Robbins and others were successful in convincing the Republican National Committee to pass a resolution blasting the Advanced Placement U.S. History course, saying it “reflected a radically revisionist view of American history that emphasizes negative aspects of our nation’s history while omitting or minimizing positive aspects.”

In response, the College Board — a non-profit which creates the AP tests — said that the opposition was based on “significant misunderstandings.” Dan Coleman, the President of The College Board emphasized that the tests are actually written “by college professors and K–12 teachers throughout this country.” He also, in an effort to allay concerns, released a sample test.

The efforts have spurred attacks on the test in Georgia, North Carolina, Texas and Colorado.

UPDATE

A poll of 6,627 students and parents in two Oklahoma cities found that 96% opposed efforts to ban the U.S. AP History class. Fisher says he will “rework” his bill which he now claims is “very poorly worded and was incredibly ambiguous.” Fisher claims he’s “very supportive of the AP program.”

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