After recently facing controversy for dumbing down the SAT to better align it with the Obama-backed Common Core national education standards, College Board boss and Common Core architect David Coleman is once again at the center of an escalating political firestorm. This time, the powerful “educrat” and the federally funded outfit he leads are under fire for literally trying to rewrite American history with what critics charge is a wildly slanted “curriculum” that is biased to the point of being detached from reality.
Organized opposition to the attempt is accelerating quickly; so much so that the organization responsible for the new curriculum refuses to name the authors and announced that it would be “clarifying” the changes soon. Still, opponents say the rewrite of American history should be scrapped altogether — or, at the very least, delayed pending a thorough review and appropriate revisions. Activists and political leaders are already working with authorities in several states such as Texas to block the scheme.
“David Coleman may have gone too far this time,” noted Dr. Carole Hornsby Haynes, a curriculum and education specialist.
Experts say the biggest problem with the new curriculum is its brazen effort to teach “history” through what analysts describe as a “progressive” lens. Instead of focusing on actual U.S. history, for example, critics say the radical new Advanced Placement (AP) history curriculum represents hard-core Marxist indoctrination. Among other concerns, a growing roster of opponents argue that the new scheme hypes and exaggerates real or imagined wrongs while presenting everything in a collectivist mold. Meanwhile, it downplays and ignores virtues and goodness in America’s historical development and its experiments with liberty and self-government.
The unprecedented advancements in human freedom, religious liberty, individual rights, and more are all glossed over, or even framed as negative. Instead, experts and educators say the curriculum represents a half-baked effort to present America as a racist, imperialistic, and oppressive endeavor. From marginalizing, ignoring, and demonizing the Founding Fathers to touting the alleged benevolence and greatness of anti-constitutional federal machinations, opponents say the new history framework represents an extreme departure from what America is and has been.
Part of the problem is what is missing. “You’re not going to find Thomas Jefferson and the House of Burgesses,” explained retired U.S. history teacher Larry Krieger, who taught for over three decades and is now working hard to highlight the deficiencies in the College Board’s rewrite of the course and history itself. “And finally, you’re not going to find Benjamin Franklin and the birth of American entrepreneurialism.”
James Madison, another one of the most important founders of America and its constitutional system of self-government, is also missing from the new program. Even the Pilgrims, who escaped persecution in Europe to become the earliest settlers in America, are conspicuously absent from the controversial AP history course. The course outline specifically states that only material covered in the document will be on the test.
On the other hand, unless the changes are reversed, millions of impressionable high-school students across America will spend their time learning about Chief Little Turtle, the radical leftist group Students for a Democratic Society, and the Black Panthers, critics pointed out. They will also learn that European settlers (early Americans) ravaged the environment, exploited other peoples, spread diseases, and more. In short, America’s Founders and heroes are presented largely as a plague upon the Earth.
Instead of American exceptionalism, meanwhile, students will be taught to view U.S. history from the perspective of some of the most radical “progressives” on the fringe of the fringe. “What you’re going to find is our nation’s founders portrayed as bigots who developed a belief in white superiority that was, in turn, derived from a strong belief in British racial and cultural superiority,” Krieger was quoted as saying in media reports.
“It is relentless left-wing indoctrination” and “antithetical to everything that I believe about teaching and our country’s history,” Krieger said. The document is also “unprofessional,” “boring,” and “very poorly written,” he added, saying that under Coleman, dubious Common Core principles were now being applied to U.S. history as well. While the history rewrite began before the deeply polarizing Coleman seized control of the College Board, countless critics have blasted his leadership and linked the history fiasco to his Common Core machinations.
The new curriculum also strives to present government expansion beyond constitutional limits from a radical statist perspective, according to analysts. When describing the New Deal, for example, students are expected to learn that the massive federal intervention and anti-constitutional programs were aimed at using government power to “provide relief to the poor” and “stimulate recovery” — a controversial view pushed largely by socialists and discredited Keynesians.
In an open letter to Common Core architect and College Board boss Coleman, a grassroots coalition organized by the American Principles in Action and Concerned Women for America blasted the rewrite of the AP U.S. History Framework. “Concerned citizens and elected officials are increasingly alarmed at the direction it will take our schools, our teachers, and our high school students,” the letter explains, pointing to the “rising tide of opposition” to the controversial scheme.
“The new Framework inculcates a consistently negative view of American history by highlighting oppressors and exploiters while ignoring the dreamers and innovators who built our country,” the August 4 letter continues. “Instead of striving to build a ‘City upon a Hill,’ as generations of students have been taught, the colonists are portrayed as bigots who developed ‘a rigid racial hierarchy’ that was in turn derived from ‘a strong belief in British racial and cultural superiority’.”
The controversial framework, according to the letter, ignores the rise of representative governments. It also omits the American colonists’ unprecedented commitment to religious freedom and the emergence of a pluralistic society without an entrenched aristocracy, signatories complained. Even the U.S. government's Herculean efforts to defeat Hitler’s National Socialists (Nazis) are glossed over.
Aside from the content and bias scandals, critics also say the new framework for AP “history” will establish a number of other troubling precedents. Among them: Supplanting local and state curricula and standards by purporting to establish what historic topics are important — a phenomenon that could have far-reaching effects on the views and historical knowledge of generations of Americans.
“The new 98-page document establishes a baseline so far to the left that it conflicts with virtually all state standards,” education activists said in the letter to Coleman, adding that existing state standards and the AP framework “are like oil and water – they will not mix.” Still, experts say that the radical new version of U.S. history will gradually infect government schools, private schools, and even homeschooling programs if left unchecked. Existing standards, meanwhile, will be pushed aside.
Scholars and academics have also lashed out at the new scheme for a wide range of problems — especially the radical viewpoint evident throughout the framework. National Association of Scholars President Peter Wood, for example, called the new AP curriculum a “briefing document on progressive and leftist views of the American past.” The scheme also “weaves together a vaguely Marxist or at least materialist reading of the key events with the whole litany of identity group grievances,” he added.
The fact that the authors of the framework remain anonymous has also stirred outrage and speculation. Countless critics suspect the architects behind the scheme have not been publicly identified for nefarious reasons — perhaps, for example, it was authored by some fringe university professors or even graduate students whose identities themselves would discredit the document, and the College Board by extension.
Even before the latest scandal over the history indoctrination, Coleman and the once-prestigious educational outfit he leads were already the subject heavy criticism — especially surrounding Common Core and the dumbing down of SAT tests often used for college admissions. Some experts are even predicting that the College Board could begin to fade into irrelevance as it seeks to push radical views, dumb down tests, and foist Common Core on the nation by stealth.
“They’re going to be less and less of an indicator of how ready you actually are for college,” prominent SAT tutor Anthony-James Green, whose skills in prepping students for the test fetch $650 per hour in New York City, told The New American in a phone interview earlier this year. “It is a blatant dumbing down of the SAT.... From a self-preservation standpoint, Coleman got on board a sinking ship.”
Some conservative leaders, meanwhile, are hoping that the growing public outrage over the radical educational scheming could lead to serious change. “We hope that the uproar about Common Core and the new history curriculum will grow to a point where the federal government’s use of taxpayers’ money to bribe states into accepting the program will help many to see how dangerous federal involvement in the important field of education truly is,” wrote John F. McManus, the president of The John Birch Society, in a recent column. “Maybe then, they will join with the growing number who believe federal involvement in education ought to be abolished.”
The new version of history is set to be rolled out across American classrooms this fall. For now, the uproar over Common Core and the extremist AP “history” curriculum is still growing louder, and spreading like wildfire across America.
Responding to a tsunami of pressure, numerous states have already dropped Common Core. Others are expected to do so in the coming months and years. In more than a few states, political leaders are also working on plans to deal with the AP history disaster, too. Even the Republican National Committee unanimously adopted a resolution blasting the new "inaccurate" history curriculum as “a radically revisionist view of American history” and calling for official investigations and withholding taxpayer funds.
Whether real, systemic, and positive change in education will come out of the latest scandals, though, depends largely on how hard parents and teachers are willing to work to protect and properly educate American students.