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The History Wars
Texas Rejects New AP US History Framework

The Texas State Board of Education will set aside new AP U.S. History Framework in favor of its state-mandated U.S. history curriculum, according to a measure passed on Wednesday. The Associated Press reports:

[State] Board [of Education] Member Ken Mercer, a San Antonio Republican, called for Texas to delay implementation of the new AP test in Texas. But since the board has no jurisdiction over a national test, members compromised with Wednesday’s measure…

Mercer said the new exam and course framework ignore such American civil right icons as Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks and Cesar Chavez, while sanitizing lessons on World War II.

“In World War II there’s no Holocaust, no liberation of concentration camps,” he said. “It’s mentioned in Texas, but not in the (national) framework.”

As Nicholas M. Gallagher recently argued on this site, the new framework is fundamentally flawed because it replaces what was an intensive survey course with a modish “topics” course that’s heavy on conclusions, but light on facts. It seems the Texas school board is reasoning along similar lines.

About 10 percent of all students who take the AP U.S. History exam are enrolled in Texas high schools, so this decision could have a substantial impact on the calculations of the College Board, which sets the AP tests. When the University of California expressed dissatisfaction with the SAT in the early 2000s, the College Board responded with a substantial revision, adding a writing section and raising the maximum score from 1600 to 2400 (though earlier this year it decided to return to the 1600 maximum and cut the writing section).

While conservatives have mixed ideological objections to the new AP with practical ones, the Texas decision suggests that the strongest case against the new policy remains pedagogical. As Marisa Perez, a Democratic member of the Texas SBOE who supported the measure, said, “I think we need to teach history as it happened and not change it.”

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  • DiogenesDespairs

    “I think we need to teach history as it happened and not change it.”

    The most sensible single sentence I’ve heard all day And from a Democrat?! There’s still a ray of hope when wonders never cease.

    In teaching US history, it’s all right to leave the warts in, as long as you don’t take out the shining soul of our experiment in individual freedom and responsibility and our founding principles.

    To the extent we have lived up to those principles we have grown and prospered and done great things; to the extent we have failed to live up to them we have weakened and injured ourselves.

    There, American history in one sentence. The rest is filling in the details.

    • texasjimbo

      Keep in mind, she is a Texas democrat, a significant portion of whom are as close to the typical republican nationally as they are to national democrats.

      • qet

        Or perhaps she is a Wise Latina Woman?

        • FriendlyGoat

          Careful with that. One day soon, the Republicans hope to sell a male president (Christie, Bush, Walker or somebody) by putting Hispanic female Governor Susana Martinez on the ticket as VP for any of them. Making fun of wise Latina women is going to go out of style very quickly on your own side.

          • Corlyss

            Yeah? Well when is using immigrants as election fodder while you basically ignore them going out of style? One of these days, Latinos will wise up that all Dims want them for is to ensure Dims can continue to abuse them.

          • FriendlyGoat

            Many American-citizen Latinos (the only ones who vote) understand that Democrats are for people and Republicans are for corporations. Martinez of New Mexico is a corporate gal the GOP hopes to use to thoroughly confuse that issue. Contrary to popular belief, immigration is not the main thing American Latinos think about.

          • qet

            I think Corlyss’ point is that voting Latinos/as are already coming to see the absurdity of that juvenile dichotomy. Coming to see, just for one example, that inequality is most pronounced in Democrat-controlled domains, and that this “we’re here to protect you poor vulnerable helpless ignorant marginalized oppressed etc etc. people against the Evil Republicans and their Axis of Corporate Evil” schtick peddled by the talking-points scriptwriters employed by the DNCC is just that–a schtick, that only devotees of The West Wing could actually believe.

            But I digress.

          • FriendlyGoat

            Yep. Digressing.

          • Corlyss

            “Democrats are for people and Republicans are for corporations.”

            Pure BS. “People” never provided good jobs to anyone. Corporations and government do that. Progs want to nationalize corporations and have to a large extent. It’s not enough to steal their money thru taxes and shakedowns. That way lies rump of skunk and madness and a rerun of every socialist debacle since socialism was invented. No people will long tolerate the results of allowing the government to be the sole employer.

            “Contrary to popular belief, immigration is not the main thing American Latinos think about.”

            That’s exactly right. Their principal concern is jobs, jobs, jobs. The fact that this administration as so constipated what little is left of the market system that it doesn’t create jobs in sufficient number to accommodate the illegals is why their numbers have fallen during the recession. In fact, the economy and its productivity or lack thereof are the main concern of the overwhelming majority of voters. But since the Republicans can’t do much nationally about that and this administration doesn’t know its arse from its elbow about economics and refuses to find out what it needs to know, most voters’ are destined to remain unsatisfied, even after we get rid of this misbegotten administration.

    • FriendlyGoat

      Of course, dude. A great deal of America was founded on the principle of slavery. When we decided, after a very big war, to “fail to live up to” that, we weakened and injured ourselves— according to your detail-less history.

      • Corlyss

        Oy! Your very liberal party was in the forefront of slavery. And THAT detail is in every history book I had 4-12.

        • FriendlyGoat

          When Democrats supported slavery and Jim Crow, they weren’t liberal. Times change. I doubt that the real Lincoln would much appreciate today’s Republicans selling their corporate agenda on his old name, either.

          • Doug

            Lincoln was an enthusiastic capitalist, thank you very much.

          • Corlyss

            “When Democrats supported slavery and Jim Crow, they weren’t liberal.”

            They aren’t liberal now. They’re crypto-tyrants selling tripe to the voters just until the country gets to the tipping point where their mask falls away and reveals them for the lying murderers they are. The country could do much much worse than taking for its motto “the business of America is business.” It’s no accident that the greatest gifts of freedom and the moral and governmental philosophies to make freedom reality for more people in the world than any other nation came from “a nation of shopkeepers.”

  • GodisanAmerican

    Texas State of Board of ‘Education’. Is it the same board that’s against teaching Evolution (‘Teach the controversy, ‘Just a theory’..)? Doesn’t it have the kooky dentist member of who declares that scientific facts should be just a matter of personal choice?

    • Tom

      And this makes them wrong about this instance…why?

      • GodisanAmerican

        because on the scale of idiot to genius, the creationist are just below the idiots -From an episode of Family Guy, a source more intellectual than Ayn Rand, Paul Ryan’s savior.

        • Tom

          And that tells me all I need to know about how seriously to take you.

    • Corlyss

      “scientific facts should be just a matter of personal choice?”

      Well, that’s been pretty much the Dim position since tedious blathers like the World Academy of Art and Science and The Committee of Concerned Scientists and their agenda-driven predecessors and successors became a feature of the political landscape. It’s called “Lying for Justice,” or “just plain lying” if you’re the picky sort.

  • FriendlyGoat

    There has to be a lot more to this than Republicans complaining about insufficient coverage of M.L King, Rosa Parks and Cesar Chavez.

    Indeed, WWII with no Holocaust would be kinda nuts, but what are GOP Texans really unhappy about in this AP course?

    • Corlyss

      I’m not sure it matters about WW2. We never got that far in any of my history classes. We barely got to the Depression before the term was over.

      • rheddles

        So you finished up with the depression. Wonder why?

        • Corlyss

          We spent too long on the early republic and the civil war.

      • FriendlyGoat

        This is a good argument for teaching history backwards. The more recent events are of far greater significance to students’ understanding of life than the stories of Capt. John Smith and Pocahontas.

        • Corlyss

          I hear ya. I would have at least liked to have heard about WW2 just once out of all my history classes in 4-12. On the other hand, I think understanding the ideas that moved the Enlightenment are crucial to understanding who we are and where we came from. If you don’t know that, you really don’t have a good foundation for understanding the most critical policy discussions today centered on the size of government and what to do about the future.

  • Corlyss

    “As Marisa Perez, a Democratic member of the Texas SBOE who supported the measure, said, “I think we need to teach history as it happened and not change it.” ”
    Whadda conzept!
    Oh my! She better check her party affiliation!

  • Alex Christman

    Just a brief comment. As an actual A.P. U.S. History teacher none of this matters. The new legislation hasn’t actually changed anything going on in the classroom. Look deeper into the story.

    “Debbie Pennington, senior education manager for the College Board, said the new course and exam were designed to be flexible enough to conform to curriculum standards in different states. She said she was confident that history courses in Texas can prepare students for the new AP test while also adhering to the state’s curriculum standards.”

    Students are still taking the new A.P. test. Texas is just telling teachers to use the Texas framework instead of the A.P. framework. I hope this isn’t shocking to any of you, but good teachers use their own framework, not the legislature’s or college board’s.

    As long as students are still taking the A.P. test, this story is nothing substantial. Every partisan can feel either the swelling tide of righteous patriotism or the foreboding clouds of a storm of ignorance….in the meantime FOX & MSNBC will see their ad revenues rise.

    • Anthony

      Touche Alex. And keep that framework (good teachers….) as you continue to impart historical instruction to America’s children.

    • qet

      I think you prove too much. If the new AP curriculum is really no big deal, if it really doesn’t fundamentally alter what is going on in classrooms, then it was unnecessary to revise it at all. And yet revised it was. By serious-minded people who have a serious agenda they are pushing. Pushing onto people who don’t share it, because from your statement it is clear that those who do share it could already push it in their own classrooms without requiring formal revision to the curriculum.

      • Alex Christman

        That is true, and I think it is likely that elites on both the left and right think they have more power over instruction than they actually do. This reminds me of the Texas textbook panic.

    • Corlyss

      Fox yes, MSNBC no.

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