Exam erases U.S. exceptionalism

Sep 24, 2014 by

AP exam’s structure will encourage students and teachers to stick to leftist framework.

Defenses of the College Board’s revised Advanced Placement U.S. History (APUSH) Curriculum Framework have ranged from “it’s a balanced document” to “teachers will have flexibility” to “what’s wrong with a leftist slant?” None of these defenses should be acceptable.

To the “balanced document” argument, we say: Read it. A Pioneer Institute study by experts, including 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.”

OUR VIEW: Critics don’t know much about history

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.

The College Board’s recent release of the previously secret sample exam confirms this conclusion. All sample questions are anchored firmly in the framework, even the pejorative language used to describe President Reagan. The sample exam makes it clear that if teachers want their students to score well on the APUSH exam, they will teach the framework.

So we’re left with the argument that the APUSH course rightly veers off into progressive territory (diminishing content knowledge in favor of “historical skills” and “themes” and embracing identity politics) because accurate history is disfavored in some university programs. If so, parents will want their children to avoid APUSH. The unelected College Board may decide to impose revisionist history, but its customers need not buy it.

Jane Robbins is a senior fellow at the American Principles Project, a conservative advocacy group.

via Exam erases U.S. exceptionalism: Opposing view.

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1 Comment

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    Teacher with a Brain

    Teaching the “philosophy” of American Exceptionalism is a dangerous practice. We should acknowledge and teach the wonderful things about this nation and the principals upon which it is founded, etc. It is nothing short of wonderful. However, to color our teaching of American history with the notion that somehow we are exceptional and we surpass the rest of the world on any measure because we are America is dangerous propaganda. To create and keep a great government/nation requires that we constantly be willing to evaluate ourselves, our behavior and to acknowledge and correct our errors. This is no different than the individual who works diligently at the personal level to become the best he or she can be. Once one has accepted the view that there is something inherently special or exceptional about oneself, a complacency is apt to set in as one justifies all actions and deeds based on the premise of one’s exceptionality; growth ceases and decay begins, slowly at first.
    We are a great nation, however the notion that somehow we are always right, or the very best, or above criticism is a dangerous philosophy which allows us to rationalize any or all choices, good and bad, that we make and act upon. This is not the way to become nor stay great.

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