Advanced Placement U.S. History in Nebraska

Oct 6, 2014 by


Advanced Placement U.S. History in Nebraska

By Henry W. Burke


Our country is in the midst of a reality check.  As more of the Common Core is being rolled out and the public gets to see the reality of the philosophy behind it, they do not like it.  When 82% of New Yorkers – one of the most liberal states in the country – want Common Core gone, then you know a shift in thinking is occurring. 

By the same token, you do not want to be on the wrong side of the new AP U. S. History debate (known as “APUSH”).  Just as with the Common Core, the more the public is finding out about the new APUSH Framework, the more aghast they are at the in-your-face indoctrination it contains.  What do you think the typical Nebraskan would think if you allow the new APUSH to go forward where these heroes, heroines, and important events will not be taught to their children and instead, they will be taught to be ashamed of America?

Another serious problem has recently surfaced as ISIS has dramatically expanded its territory and influence in the Mideast and in the United States.  A woman was recently beheaded right here in the United States by a man who reportedly had been trying to convert coworkers to Islam.  Can we assume that the beheadings by ISIS had some influence on this Islamic man? After all, the “I” in ISIS stands for “Islamic.”

After the Fort Hood massacre, the Boston Marathon bombing, and the recent Oklahoma beheading, we can see that homegrown terrorism is a serious problem.  The threat to our homeland is real!

Why should we care how young people view America?  The seeds of discontent that are sown by APUSH could set them up to believe the anti-American propaganda prevalent on the Internet.  How does ISIS recruit?  With its strong use of social media, the radical Islamists prey on young people who are disenchanted with America.  The future of our country is at stake!

  1. The Problems with APUSH
  2.  Gone from the New AP U.S. History Course

The following items have been eliminated in the new APUSH Framework:

(1) George Washington (reduced to a 1 sentence fragment in the Farewell Address)

(2) The study of the Declaration of Independence (reduces to one phrase in one sentence) – ignores sacrifices signers made who pledged their lives, fortunes, and sacred honor to the cause of freedom

(3) Efforts of U. S. to defeat fascism

(4) Jefferson’s First Inaugural Address

(5) Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address

(6) Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

(7) Henry Clay

(8) Andrew Jackson

(9) Sinclair Lewis

(10) Jane Addams

(11) Theodore Roosevelt

(12) Lost Generation authors (Fitzgerald, Hemingway, Lewis)

(13) John Winthrop’s City on a Hill

(14) The Cold War

(15) Ben Franklin

(16) James Madison

(17) Thomas Jefferson

(18) Roger Williams

(19) American Revolution events such as Bunker Hill, Yorktown

(20) WW II major battles such as D-Day, Battle of the Bulge, the Tuskegee Airmen

(21) America’s Lend Lease Program (provided over $50 billion in military equipment to help our allies defeat Hitler

(22) Boston Tea Party

(23) Patrick Henry

(24) Theodore Roosevelt

(25) The goodness and greatness of America

(26) Merits of our 1776 heroes

(27) U. S. founding principles that inspired the movement to abolish slavery and

(28) Manifest Destiny and its emphasis on spreading democracy and new technologies.


  1. Negative Aspects Emphasized in APUSH

Instead of the positive aspects, the new AP U.S. History course emphasizes the following:

(1) European exploitation led to native decline and black bondage

(2) White racial superiority

(3) Internment of Japanese Americans

(4) Dropping of atomic bombs

(5) Race and segregation, and

(6) Relentlessly negative view of American history.  


  1. Background

Each year, thousands of our best and brightest students take Advanced Placement (AP) courses in high school.  The most popular course is AP English Language and Composition and the second most popular course is AP United States History.  

Some people might wonder why knowledgeable Americans are concerned about the new Advanced Placement (AP) United States History course.  The College Board drastically changed the new AP U.S. History course (often referred to as “APUSH”) from a general 5-page course description used since 2010 to a detailed 120-page Curriculum Framework, effective Fall 2014.  The College Board’s changes are very alarming to those people who care about our country and revere America as an exceptional nation.



  1. Nebraska Law on Americanism

Nebraska State Statute 79-724

79-724. American citizenship; committee on Americanism; created; duties; required instruction; patriotic exercises; duties of officers.


The Nebraska Statute 79-724 begins with these statements:

An informed, loyal, just, and patriotic citizenry is necessary to a strong, stable, just, and prosperous America. Such a citizenry necessitates that every member thereof be fully acquainted with the nation’s history and that he or she be in full accord with our form of government and fully aware of the liberties, opportunities, and advantages of which we are possessed and the sacrifices and struggles of those through whose efforts these benefits were gained.

The Statute explains the role of the “Committee on Americanism” as follows:

(1) Every school board shall, at the beginning of each school year, appoint from its members a committee of three, to be known as the committee on Americanism. The committee on Americanism shall:

(a) Carefully examine, inspect, and approve all textbooks used in the teaching of American history and civil government in the school. Such textbooks shall adequately stress the services of the men and women who achieved our national independence, established our constitutional government, and preserved our union and shall be so written to include contributions by ethnic groups as to develop a pride and respect for our institutions and not be a mere recital of events and dates;

The Nebraska Americanism Statute further explains that this information must be taught in high school:

(5) In at least two grades of every high school, at least three periods per week shall be devoted to the teaching of civics, during which courses specific attention shall be given to the following matters:

(a) The United States Constitution and the Constitution of Nebraska;

(b) The benefits and advantages of our form of government and the dangers and fallacies of Nazism, Communism, and similar ideologies; and

(c) The duties of citizenship, including active participation in the improvement of a citizen’s community, state, country, and world and the value and practice of civil discourse between opposing interests.

Finally, the Board and Superintendent responsibilities are addressed as follows:

(7) Every school board, the State Board of Education, and the superintendent of each school district in the state shall be held directly responsible in the order named for carrying out this section, and neglect thereof by any employee or appointed official shall be considered a dereliction of duty and cause for dismissal.


Clearly, the new AP U.S. History Curriculum Framework does not comply with Nebraska Law!


  1. Number of AP U.S. History Students in Nebraska

The College Board released the latest report on February 11, 2014.  The report is “The 10th Annual AP Report to the Nation.”  According to the “Nebraska Supplement” to the report, 9,091 exams were taken by Nebraska public high school students in 2013.


In the Class of 2013, the most popular AP exams were: (1) English Language and Composition – 1,159 exams, (2) Psychology – 958 exams, (3) United States History – 893 exams, (4) English Literature and Composition – 867, (5) World History – 786, (6) Calculus AB — 582, (7) United States Government and Politics – 543, (8) Statistics – 493, (9) Human Geography – 383, and (10) Biology – 381 exams.

In Nebraska, 893 public high school students took AP U.S. History exams in 2013.  This represents about 10 % of the Advanced Placement exams taken by Nebraska students in 2013.


  1. The AP U.S. History Framework

The APUSH Framework is described in the College Board publication “AP United States History – Course and Exam Description, Including the Curriculum Framework, Effective Fall 2014, Revised September 2014.”

  1. Coverage

The new APUSH Curriculum Framework makes it very clear that the College Board Advanced Placement exams will test only items included in the Framework.  The Curriculum Framework states on page 10:

Every AP Exam question will be rooted in these specified learning objectives, requiring a student to draw upon the historical evidence selected by the teacher for each learning objective.

This is reiterated on page 20 under the Thematic Learning Objectives:

Teachers may also investigate U.S. history with their students using themes or approaches of their own choosing, keeping in mind that all questions on the AP U.S. History Exam will measure student understanding of the specified thematic learning objectives.


  1. Gray Boxes in the Framework

Page 30 of the Curriculum Framework explains that the gray boxes contain information that the teachers may choose to teach (“illustrative knowledge”) but are not required to teach.  The Framework indicates “Teachers have flexibility to use examples such as the following.”

This means teachers do not have to teach what is in the gray boxes because they are technically not the “required” elements that will be tested on the AP exam.  Of course, with so much to cover in the APUSH Framework, teachers will not teach anything in the gray boxes. They will not have the class time to do so; and when push comes to shove, they are only going to teach what they know is going to be on the APUSH exam.

For example, in Period 1: 1491 – 1607, “Pueblo, Chinook” and “Iroquois, Algonquian” are listed in gray boxes.  Because these items are shown in gray boxes, they are not required to be taught and will not be tested on the AP exam.  Therefore, those terms will not be covered by the APUSH teachers.


In Period 2: 1607 – 1754, the Framework lists these items in gray boxes:


Wool Act, Molasses Act, founding of Pennsylvania

In Period 3: 1754 – 1800, the Framework includes in gray boxes:


Stamp Act, John Locke, Adam Smith

Abigail Adams, Pennsylvania Gradual Emancipation Law



In Period 4: 1800 – 1848, the Framework shows these items in gray boxes:


          Frederick Douglass

          steel plow, mechanical reaper, Samuel Slater



In Period 5: 1844 -1877, the Framework places these items in gray boxes:


         Gettysburg, March to the Sea



In Period 6: 1865 – 1898, the Framework includes these items in gray boxes:


socialism, Interstate Commerce Act

          Booker T. Washington


In Period 7: 1890 – 1945, the Framework lists the following “unimportant” items in gray boxes:


Social Security Act, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC)

radio, motion pictures, automobiles

Atlantic Charter, development of sonar, Manhattan Project


In Period 8: 1945 – 1980, these are shown in gray boxes:

development of hydrogen bomb, space race

Rachel Carson, Clean Air Act

Watergate, Phyllis Schlafly

Finally, in Period 9: 1980 – Present, the Curriculum Framework reveals its Progressive, left-leaning bias by placing these items in the “unnecessary gray box” category:

OPEC oil embargo, 1970s inflation, Iranian hostage crisis

tax cuts passed under Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush, Contract with America, Planned Parenthood v. Casey

expansion of Medicare and Medicaid, growth of the budget deficit

“Star Wars” missile defense system, Start I



The above examples in gray boxes illustrate some of the things that are not required to be taught under the new APUSH Curriculum Framework.  Teachers will not teach the “optional” items because of the lack of class time.


  1. Progressive Bias

In addition to omitting important events and people in our history, the new APUSH Curriculum Framework consistently demonstrates a strong Progressive, liberal bias throughout the document.  For example, the American Revolution is mentioned but only in a negative light. 

Instead of referring to the “American Revolution,” the AP writers called it the “Colonial War for Independence” and inserted the Indian tribes.

During and after the colonial war for independence, various tribes attempted to forge advantageous political alliances with one another and with European powers to protect their interests, limit migration of white settlers, and maintain their tribal lands.

Apparently, the APUSH authors could not bear to call George Washington the father of our country and our first President.  Instead, they said:

Although George Washington’s Farewell Address warned about the dangers of divisive political parties and permanent foreign alliances, European conflict and tensions with Britain and France fueled increasingly bitter partisan debates throughout the 1790s.

The Framework consistently paints a negative picture of the United States.  In Period 5: 1844 – 1877, “racial superiority” is emphasized whenever possible.

Enthusiasm for U.S. territorial expansion, fueled by economic and national security interests and supported by claims of U.S. racial and cultural superiority, resulted in war, the opening of new markets, acquisition of new territory, and increased ideological conflicts.

The next sentence repeats this theme by saying “… built on a belief in white racial superiority and a sense of American cultural superiority…”

The APUSH Curriculum Framework could not find the time to say much about World War I or World War II, yet it mentioned the negative aspects of American business.  In the 1890 – 1945 Period:

Large corporations came to dominate the U.S. economy as it increasingly focused on the production of consumer goods, driven by technologies and manufacturing techniques.

The Framework praises the efforts of Progressives at every turn.  For example:

Progressive reformers responded to economic instability, social inequality, and political corruption by calling for government intervention in the economy, expanded democracy, greater social justice, and conservation of natural resources.

Progressives promoted federal legislation to regulate abuses of the economy and the environment, and many sought to expand democracy.


The AP U.S. History authors inject their ideology throughout the document.  In Period 8: 1945 – 1980, they are instructing the APUSH teachers to emphasize:

Activists began to question society’s assumptions about gender and to call for social and economic equality for women and for gays and lesbians.


In the final period, 1980 – Present, APUSH takes a swipe at Christians by saying:

The rapid and substantial growth of evangelical and fundamentalist Christian churches and organizations, as well as increased political participation by some of those groups, encouraged significant opposition to liberal social and political trends.


Notice that the derogatory phrase “fundamentalist Christian churches” is used in the above statement.


  1. Articles on the New AP U.S. History (APUSH)
  2. Merrill Hope

Breitbart Texas published an excellent article on 9.11.14 by Merrill Hope “Exclusive: Texas Is Nation’s Last Best Chance To Block APUSH, Say Experts.”

Recently, a nationally renowned group of experts examined AP U.S. History and wrote a letter documenting their findings.  The letter was authored by: Peter Wood, Stanley Kurtz, Jane Robbins, Emmett McGroarty, Larry Krieger, Ronald Radosh, and Dr. Sandra Stotsky.  The letter criticizes APUSH in nine areas, ranging from the loss of local control to the slanted view of its authors.  The authors of the letter explained: 

Our criticisms have covered nine main points:

(1) The new APUSH attempts to impose national standards that will inevitably circumvent state standards and local control.

(2) It is a detailed curriculum deceptively put forward as a mere framework.

(3) It is ideologically slanted in favor of progressive interpretations of American history.

(4) It gives short shrift to or omits important topics.

(5) It purports to train students to be “apprentice historians” without laying a solid foundation in historical knowledge.

(6) Its emphasis on documentary sources lacks many seminal documents.

(7) It falsely presents itself as flexible for teachers. 

(8) It fails to provide teachers with adequate preparation materials.

(9) It was written and reviewed by committees dominated by individuals hostile to traditional American history and fails to gives serious attention to American exceptionalism.


  1. Jane Robbins

Jane Robbins offers a great criticism of the APUSH exam in the 9.22.14 article “Exam erases U.S. exceptionalism: Opposing View.”

The article quotes a Pioneer Institute report where renowned Madisonian scholar Ralph Ketcham, describes the framework as “a portrait of America as a dystopian society — one riddled with racism, violence, hypocrisy, greed, imperialism and injustice.”

The article continues:

The origins of the framework have been traced to the philosophy that the U. S. is only one nation among many, and not a particularly admirable one at that. Every trace of American exceptionalism has been scrubbed; seminal documents such as the Gettysburg Address have vanished.

What about teachers’ flexibility? Will APUSH teachers still teach the vital content in their state history standards? Although the College Board (under duress) is erasing its warning that none of this state material will be tested, the practical reality remains that teachers won’t waste time on it.

The exam’s structure will encourage students and teachers to stick to the leftist framework. We’ll have a national history curriculum rather than state flexibility and control.


  1. Larry Krieger and Jane Robbins

In another article, Larry Krieger and Jane Robbins carefully refuted the College Board’s arguments in “5 Reasons the College Board’s U. S. History Talking Points Are Wrong.”

Krieger and Robbins present the following arguments:

  1. Critics Are Not a ‘Small Fringe Group’

They cite a long list of true experts in the field, hardly a “small fringe group.”

  1. Persistent Negativity Is One-Sided

Stanley Kurtz explains that this negative account of American history did not happen by accident.

Kurtz (here and here) has established a clear ideological link between the Framework authors, New York University history professor Thomas Bender, and University of Colorado history professor Fred Anderson. Bender and Anderson reject American exceptionalism. Bender considers American exceptionalism a ‘gross oversimplification’ and calls for a new international, or global, perspective of American history.

  1. Circumventing State Standards

The College Board knows that its new Framework is not aligned to the numerous state history standards.  For example, they found in Texas that 181 TEKS elements (from the Civil war to Present) were left out of APUSH.  For Alabama, APUSH omitted 134 of the required elements.  Here is the kicker – these findings came from a report commissioned by the College Board .

  1. No Knowledge? No Problem!  

The article points out the close link between the Framework’s biases and the exam.  The sample exam simply confirms the pervasive biases in the Framework.  

The Framework informs readers, ‘President Ronald Reagan rejected détente with increased defense spending, military action, and bellicose rhetoric….’ The sample exam then excerpts from Reagan’s ‘Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall’ speech to guide students to conclude that Reagan’s speech ‘best reflects’ his ‘increased assertiveness and bellicosity.’

  1. Survey Course Versus Boutique Leftist Seminar

Some APUSH proponents suggest that teaching a broad perspective of American history is not the role of an AP U.S. History course.  Instead, the proponents argue that:

…the course should assume students have already been exposed to the ‘facts’ in their state standards and now are ready for instruction in the ‘historical thinking skills’ that pass for scholarship in much of higher education.

Since APUSH is the only dedicated U.S. History course that many students will ever take, it should not become a radical ideological class.  In so doing, the students are deprived from acquiring an accurate understanding of our nation’s history.

Larry Krieger and Jane Robbins conclude by offering this warning:

Concerned citizens cannot allow the unelected, unaccountable College Board to force a biased course with a clear political agenda into American classrooms. If the College Board is allowed to remain above the will of the people, it will become an unaccountable arbiter of a nationalized American history curriculum.


  1. Texas State Board Delivers Blow to APUSH

Why are the actions taken in Texas important for Nebraska?  Both Texas and Nebraska are non-Common Core states; and both states have Americanism statutes.  Texas is a major user of Advanced Placement courses; Texas high school students took roughly 12 % of the total number of APUSH exams in the United States in 2013.  Finally, the Texas State Board of Education spent several Board Meetings listening to public testimony before taking their momentous votes.  We can benefit from their experience in Nebraska.

Education expert Donna Garner captured the essence of two very important votes by the Texas State Board of Education (Texas SBOE) in her 9.22.14 article “Momentous SBOE Votes – Patriotism Protected for America’s Students.”


Donna Garner makes it very clear:

Because of the courage of a majority of the elected members of the Texas State Board of Education (SBOE), a blow has been struck at the College Board for revising American history “downwards.” 

Texas has decided that the curriculum standards adopted by the elected members of the SBOE will prevail and that the College Board (a private entity that is totally aligned now with the Common Core) will not be allowed to dictate its biased and revisionist curriculum to Texas students.  

The free enterprise system and American exceptionalism will prevail in Texas, and many other states are expected to follow Texas’ example.


To learn more, please listen to these fascinating videos of Larry Krieger and Alice Linahan as they testified before the SBOE:

VIDEO:  Larry Krieger testified in favor of the Resolution against the new AP U. S. History Framework.

VIDEO: Segment #1 — Alice Linahan testifying at SBOE meeting against APUSH


On Wednesday, September 17, 2014, the State Board passed an Amendment requiring all Advanced Placement (AP) and International Baccalaureate (IB) courses to comply with the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) Standards.

On Friday, September 19, 2014, the Board went even further, passing SBOE member Ken Mercer’s Resolution to condemn the APUSH Framework, thereby sending a strong message to the College Board.


  1. David Coleman, Common Core, and the College Board

David Coleman, Jason Zimba and Susan Pimentel co-founded Student Achievement Partners (SAP) in 2007.  With substantial funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the non-profit Student Achievement Partners played a key role in developing the Common Core Standards.

David Coleman was one of the five lead writers for the Common Core Standards (CCS).  David Coleman and Susan Pimentel wrote the English Standards; and Jason Zimba, Phil Daro, and William McCallum wrote the Math Standards.  After David Coleman wreaked incalculable damage to our nation’s schools through Common Core, he was not content to stop there.

David Coleman left Student Achievement Partners in 2012 to become President and Chief Executive Officer of the College Board.  Soon after he took the helm of the College Board, he promised to align all of their products with the Common Core Standards.  True to his promise, the College Board is aligning the Advanced Placement (AP) courses/exams and the SAT exams with the mediocre Common Core Standards.  Ze’ev Wurman recently stated:

Now he delivers on his promise and dumbs down the SAT to match the low level of Common Core expectations.

As Dr. Susan Berry reported in Breitbart News:

‘The controversy over the AP U.S. History Test is going to transform the national battle over Common Core,’ [Stanley] Kurtz told Breitbart News. ‘The changes to the AP U.S. History Exam, enforced by none other than David Coleman, architect of the Common Core, confirm widespread fears that the Common Core will lead to politicized indoctrination.’

‘Up to now, Coleman and his allies have done their best to avoid overtly ideological moves,’ he continued. ‘Now they’ve tipped their hand. The AP controversy is going to energize the anti-Common Core forces and push this battle to a whole new level.’

‘The AP controversy will also make it vastly harder for anyone to claim that Common Core is a conservative reform,’ Kurtz added. ‘Battle lines will soon harden and the controversy over K-12 education in America is about to take off.’


The College Board pays its executives quite well.  In 2009, College Board CEO Gaston Caperton was criticized for his total compensation of $1.3 million, including deferred compensation.  This figure surpassed the President of Harvard University!  When Caperton started at the College Board in 1999, he had total compensation of about $404,000.  Under Gaston Caperton, College Board revenue has more than doubled to $660 million per year in the year ended June 2010.  In 2010, the non-profit company showed a surplus of $66 million!


When David Coleman replaced Gaston Caperton as CEO in 2012, Coleman’s total compensation was about $750,000 (with a base salary of $550,000).  That is not too bad for a “non-profit” organization.  Because the College Board is a non-profit company, it pays no corporate taxes; and the College Board can pay exorbitant salaries to its executives.  In 2009, nineteen College Board executives got more than $300,000.



The Nebraska Department of Education, State Board of Education, and the Nebraska colleges should refuse to implement and accept the new 2014 College Board Advanced Placement (AP) United States History Curriculum Framework. 

Nebraskans deserve a course that accurately reflects U. S. History, not a “revisionist” and distorted view of America.

I recommend approving the “Proposed Board Resolution on AP United States History” which is being offered by State Board Member Glen Flint.



Henry W. Burke


Bio for Henry W. Burke

Henry Burke is a Civil Engineer with a B.S.C.E. and M.S.C.E.  He has been a Registered Professional Engineer (P.E.) for 37 years and has worked as a Civil Engineer in construction for over 40 years. 

Mr. Burke had a successful 27-year career with a large construction company. 

Henry Burke serves as a full-time volunteer to oversee various construction projects. He has written numerous articles on education, engineering, construction, politics, taxes, and the economy.

Henry W. Burke


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1 Comment

  1. Avatar

    This commentary is simply untrue.
    The author is ignorant of the old Framework.
    Thus he lies.
    This is unfortunate.

    A quick list:

    The following items have been eliminated in the new APUSH Framework:

    (1) George Washington (reduced to a 1 sentence fragment in the Farewell Address)


    (2) The study of the Declaration of Independence (reduces to one phrase in one sentence) – ignores sacrifices signers made who pledged their lives, fortunes, and sacred honor to the cause of freedom


    (3) Efforts of U. S. to defeat fascism

    FALSE: FROM THE NEW FRAMEWORK: C. The United States and its allies achieved victory over the Axis
    powers through a combination of factors, including allied political
    and military cooperation, industrial production, technological
    and scientific advances, and popular commitment to advancing
    (4) Jefferson’s First Inaugural Address


    (5) Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address


    (6) Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr



    I have not read the whole article, but the author should ask for the article to be taken down until he researches BOTH Frameworks. OUT OF IGNORANCE HE IS LYING.

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