AP US History Bias

Sep 22, 2015 by

Even after revisions, it too often presents hotly debated opinions as facts.

by John Fonte & Stanley Kurtz –
Even after revisions, it too often presents hotly debated opinions as facts. The College Board set off a national controversy in the summer of 2014 when it put into effect a sharply revisionist, left-leaning curriculum framework for its AP U.S. History (APUSH) course. Although the College Board initially dismissed the critics, its tune changed after opponents raised the threat of competition from a company advised by top-notch traditional scholars. The result was a revised APUSH curriculum framework issued in the summer of 2015. In a bid to deflect criticism, the College Board removed many of the earlier version’s most biased passages and generally pared back the content. Unfortunately, the underlying bias remains, as does the need for a competing alternative to the College Board.
To illustrate this, we are going to dig deeply into the revised APUSH framework’s coverage of one major theme in American history: immigration. By any reckoning, immigration is an important part of American history. Since “Migration and Settlement” constitutes one of the seven “Thematic Learning Objectives” of the new APUSH framework, the College Board evidently agrees.

The problem with the latest APUSH framework is that it variously downplays, omits, and distorts the significance of the assimilationist ethos in American history. Instead of conveying the nature and importance of assimilation, the College Board projects a contemporary multiculturalist perspective onto earlier eras. This does an injustice both to the facts and to a theme that rightly serves as a foundation for successful civic education: assimilation.

Immigration also featured prominently in the controversy over the 2014 APUSH framework. The background of that framework was an alliance between the College Board and a group of scholars committed to “end[ing] American history as we have known it” by substituting a more transnational narrative for the traditional account. The idea was to cultivate a sense of global citizenship in place of the more usual focus on national identity. Nothing could have been farther from the Founders’ intentions, or from the actual course of American history.

America has been the most successful immigration country in the history of the world precisely because newcomers and their children have assimilated. They have, in the vernacular, become “Americanized.” This assimilation ethos has been with us since the founding. On November 15, 1794, President George Washington wrote Vice President John Adams, worrying that if immigrants are bunched together and settled in a “body . . . They retain the language, habits, and principles (good and bad), which they bring with them. Whereas by an intermixture with our people, they, or their descendants, get assimilated to our customs, measures, laws: in a word soon become one people.” Political rivals Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton held similar views on the need for assimilation, as did James Madison.
Thus did Congress in 1795 require naturalized citizens to take an oath, not only swearing loyalty to the United States but also renouncing previous political allegiance. Successful assimilation, then, is patriotic assimilation. Abraham Lincoln remarked that although immigrants were not directly descended from the founding generation, by accepting the American creed as expressed in the Declaration of Independence, they became “as though they were the blood of the blood and the flesh of the flesh of the men who wrote the Declaration, and so they are.” This core American idea of immigration with assimilation is entirely missing from the APUSH framework.

The first tip-off to the framework’s revisionist approach is its frequent use of the word “migration” in place of “immigration.” The word-picture associated with migration (and migratory populations) suggests groups of people moving from one place to another without necessarily sharing any strong ties to their new destination; it does not suggest powerful new bonds of political loyalty grounded in an immigrant’s transfer of allegiance from the “old country” to the United States. The first tip-off to the framework’s revisionist approach is its frequent use of the word ‘migration’ in place of ‘immigration.’

Source: AP US History Bias | National Review Online

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