AP Curriculum Changes Unveiled – Worse Than Previously Imagined

Earlier this week, it was revealed that the College Board, the organization behind Advanced Placement and the SATs, had relented to Conservative attacks and would downplay less pleasant aspects of U.S. history, such as slavery. They even renamed the section on United States history”American Exceptionalism.” When the new standards were released on Thursday, the whitewashing of history was far more severe than anyone could have imagined.

Did you know that the slaves created institutions to preserve their family unit and formed communities on their own? Did you know that Free Market created the American economy? Did you know that all Native Americans were killed off by the Spanish and the United States had only a minor role in their genocide? Or that Ronald Reagan single handedly caused the collapse of the Soviet Union? If you follow the new standards, you would be given this and more.

You find scant mention of the labor movement, and nothing on labor leaders such as Eugene Debs. If you followed the World War II section, it was the United States against Germany and Japan by itself. The standards even went so far as to claim that Liberalism was a modern idea Рcreated in the 1960s as an expression of anti-Communism and with the collapse of the Soviet Union, Liberalism was dying off.

Zachary Goldberg, a spokesman for the College Board, wrote an e-mail trying to explain the changes:

“This new edition addresses the legitimate concerns expressed about the 2014 framework. Every statement in the 2015 edition has been examined with great care based on the historical record and the principled feedback the College Board received. The result is a clearer and more balanced approach to the teaching of American history that remains faithful to the requirements that colleges and universities set for academic credit.”

In response to his letter, the standard’s section on “Developing the Historical Thinking Skills” comes across as amusing, for those who drafted this standard clearly were not using “Historical Thinking Skills.” Indeed, within the standards as written, they readily admit that proficiency may not be achieved with the new standards to the same level as with their other historical structures, such as World and European History. And the continual attempts to revise historical actions to match the claims of “Free Market” advocates makes the entire piece read more like a piece of propaganda, designed to push a particular viewpoint than a balanced assessment of American History.

As this is the framework for testing, teachers will inevitably teach to that test. This means that the history being taught to our youth is a sanitized, whitewashed form. The blaming of others, the misappropriation of terminology, the inaccurate portrayals, will impact these students for the rest of their lives.

And that is precisely what the conservatives wanted when they pushed for this. They have no cares for historical accuracy. This is to help produce a generation who will blindly follow whatever petty dictator waves a star-spangled banner in the future. The issues we have overcome, and the hurdles we still have to go, are being buried. This revised, sanitized history is what was fed to students by the CIA for decades during the 1950s and 1960s. So of course any attempt to correct the record is met with attacks.

Tragically, the College Board has yielded to these victims of propaganda. Those who would prefer the lie over the cold, hard truth, are always willing to attack those who speak of the failings of society. Now it is up to us to push back, to end the deception created by this sanitizing of history. After all, it is not that long ago when the use of smallpox blankets was considered fair game. And contrary to what this guideline tells us, it was not the Spanish who handed those out, but Lord Jeffrey Amherst, commander of the British forces within North America during the French and Indian War.

Featured image by Bubbels