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.”