By Erin Bloodgood
Elm Staff Writer
Advanced Placement US history has been under fire since the College Board, the organization in charge of administering the AP US history examination, revised the curriculum framework in the fall of 2014. Several states like Colorado, Texas, Georgia, North Carolina, and most recently Oklahoma, have stepped forward and challenged the new framework. State legislators have voiced concerns over the new guidelines and commented that they focus on the negative aspects of American history and not on things like the War for Independence or the Bill of Rights. Instead, the new framework brings to light the persecution of Native Americans and slavery in the United States. Many lawmakers feel that this new update has moved away from American exceptionalism and focuses too much on things that show America in a bad light.
Earlier this month, Republican State Legislator Dan Fisher proposed a bill to the Oklahoma State Legislature that would ban the AP US history course and cut off all funding for the state’s AP US history courses in public schools if the original framework for the course was not re-instated. The bill also proposed the creation of a comparable history course and examination that students could take for possible college credit, that would teach the things that the Republicans in the legislature felt were acceptable, i.e. American exceptionalism. The Oklahoma House of Representative’s Education Committee passed the bill on Feb. 16th with a Republican majority of 11-4. The bill has come under fire by educators and students alike. They feel as though all aspects of history, the good, the bad, and the ugly, need to be represented in order to fully understand the US as a nation.
Fisher has now declared that he will rewrite the bill for clarification because he believes that many are misunderstanding the bill’s intentions. In an interview with The Oklahoman, Fisher commented on the bill. He said,“It was very poorly worded and was incredibly ambiguous, and we didn’t realize that, so it’s been misinterpreted. We’re going to clear it up so folks will know exactly what we’re trying to accomplish and it’s not to hurt AP. We’re very supportive of the AP program.”
After reading the bill summary analysis provided by the Oklahoma State Legislature on their website, I see no support of the AP US history program. I do however see legislators who only support the AP US history program when it is taught exactly the way they feel is appropriate, leaving no room for an all-encompassing view of American history. Winston Churchill is quoted as saying “History is written by the victors.” Throughout US history, the victors of American society have been straight white men. Right as I type, straight white men are trying to rewrite history, they are attempting to strip history of its darker times and only focus on what makes America the greatest country in the world. History should be seen from all sides and all aspects, whether positive or negative. Ignoring parts of our history does not make us better citizens; it makes us a country of individuals who are destined to repeat the past.