The RNC passed a resolution Friday describing how an estimated 500,000 students take the College Board’s Advanced Placement U.S. History course each year, a course it says is traditionally designed to present a balanced view of American history to prepare students for college-level history courses.
Yet the College Board, the RNC resolution states, has released a new framework for the course “that reflects a radically revisionist view of American history that emphasizes negative aspects of our nation’s history while omitting or minimizing the positive aspects.”
The resolution calls on the College Board to delay the rollout for “at least a year” and calls on state legislatures and the U.S. Congress to investigate.
Mary Elizabeth Davis, the Cobb School District’s chief academic officer, said it’s true the College Board has introduced a framework that “shifts away from sort of the American facts and a very memorization-heavy AP course, and they have created a framework that is much more about being historically analytical and analyzing historical events in the U.S.”
Davis said that doesn’t mean that’s the only thing Cobb students will be exposed to in history class, though.
“In Cobb, our kids that take the AP U.S. History course are also simultaneously responsible for learning the regular U.S. history course standards that are approved by the state,” Davis said. “So, we are balancing this analytical framework and this historical analysis with the facts of American history, and the study of the significant historical characters and Founding Fathers and the events that shaped our nation over time.”
Davis: Cobb is telling the full story of history
The RNC, Davis said, is calling for the “full story” to be told.
“And we’re just completing the story,” Davis said. “In Cobb, we’ve got this covered because we would not be satisfied with only this broad framework, without identifying the historical components that kids should have exposure to.”
For example, for students enrolled in the AP History course, in addition to taking the AP exam, they also take the state’s End of Course Test.
“That is much more closely focused on more of the facts and historical characters,” Davis said.
Marietta Schools Superintendent Emily Lembeck said the materials teachers use for AP U.S. History will not change, but the new framework emphasizes a different style of teaching.
“From what I understand, it is not as fact-based and emphasizes concepts,” Lembeck said. “Of course, it assumes there is a fact base to draw from, and our curriculum maps are based on the Georgia Performance Standards for U.S. history, which have not changed and apply to AP classes,” Lembeck said.
Interim Cobb Superintendent Chris Ragsdale said the framework is an outline teachers can build from, choosing sections to emphasize and add more detail.
“The new AP U.S. History course shifts the emphasis from solely content and facts to a course focused more on historical analysis and technical writing,” Ragsdale said. “In Cobb, we will still choose the textbooks that we use to support the instruction, and we will still develop our own lesson plans and instructional resources to support historically accurate content as we implement the new AP framework.”
The College Board describes the course as more of a broad look at history. The College Board, a nonprofit which also administers the SAT, sets the standards for AP tests and courses, which earn high school students college course credit.
Angelucci favors RNC resolution
Cobb Board of Education Chairwoman Kathleen Angelucci said she is in favor of the RNC’s resolution.
Angelucci quoted the description of the new course:
“The AP Exam will measure student proficiency in the historical thinking skills as well as the thematic learning objectives. Beginning with the May 2015 AP U.S. History Exams, every AP Exam question will be rooted in these specified learning objectives, relieving teachers from the pressure to cover an unlimited amount of content in their AP U.S. History course.”
What this means, Angelucci believes, is that “not only will teachers no longer be valued for their professional abilities to teach American history, they are only viewed as a conduit for what the College Board deems necessary; usurping a state’s right to decide standards …”
Angelucci wondered, “How can Frederick Douglass or The Monroe Doctrine be considered optional concepts or topics — these are not included. The ‘Framework’ offers a very negative view of American history, which emphasizes every problem and failing of our ancestors, while ignoring or minimizing their achievements ... is this what we want to be part of the foundational learning of high school students? No mention of Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, James Madison, and John Adams, and almost none of the Declaration of Independence?
Angelucci wants to hear from the Georgia Board of Education on the matter.
“When did David Coleman and his unelected College Board become the de facto legislature and board of education for each state?” Angelucci asked.