American History and Political Correctness

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“the difference between the old and the new education being) in a word, the old was a kind of propagation – men transmitting manhood to men; the new is merely propaganda.”

CS Lewis, The Abolition of Man

My son and my daughter when they were in high school both took advanced placement American history, earning A’s.  (Yeah, they heard quite a lot about American history from me as they were growing up!  “Dad, I only asked for three dollars!  What does Washington’s strategy during the Yorktown campaign have to do with it?”)  They enjoyed the classes and thought they were worthwhile.  I am glad they took the courses prior to the new framework for teaching the courses was initiated.  Larry Krieger is a retired American history teacher.  He specialized in teaching advanced placement American history, and was recognized in 2004 and 2005 by the College Board, the company that produces the courses, as the best teacher of advanced placement American history, and he has written several books to help students prepare for the course.  He has been leading the charge against the changes that the College Board is implementing in their American history course:

The Framework’s unbalanced and biased coverage of the Colonial era represents a radical departure from its existing topical outline and from state and local curriculum guides. While students will learn a great deal about the Beaver Wars, the Chickasaw Wars, the Pueblo Revolt, and King Philip’s War, they will learn little or nothing about the rise of religious toleration, the development of democratic institutions, and the emergence of a society that included a rich mix of ethnic groups and the absence of a hereditary aristocracy. The Framework blatantly ignores such pivotal historic figures as Roger Williams and Benjamin Franklin and such key developments as the emergence of New England town meetings and the Virginia House of Burgesses as cradles of democracy.

The absence of coverage on the development of religious toleration is a particularly egregious flaw. Freedom of religion is one of America’s greatest contributions to world civilization. Yet, inexplicably the Framework omits the Pilgrims, mentions the Quakers once, and fails to discuss the importance of religious dissenters such as Anne Hutchinson and Roger Williams and the consequences of the First Great Awakening.

Thomas Jefferson described New England town meetings as “the best school of political liberty the world ever saw.” Jefferson was right. We encourage parents, teachers, and students to attend local meetings and ask school and political officials if the new College Board AP U.S. History Framework is aligned with their locally mandated courses of study. If it is not, then the public has a right and a responsibility to demand that the College Board rescind the new Framework and adopt a more appropriate course of study.

 

UNIT 3: 1754 – 1800

At the present time, a five-page outline provides AP U.S. History teachers with a clear chronological list of topics that they should cover in their courses. This traditional outline conforms to the sequence of topics approved by state and local boards of education. In contrast, the new redesigned Framework provides a detailed 98-page document that defines, discusses, and interprets “the required knowledge of each period.” The College Board has thus unilaterally assumed the authority to replace local and state guidelines with its own biased curriculum guide. These biases can be clearly seen in how the Framework emphasizes, deemphasizes, and omits selected topics in the period from 1754 to 1800.

The Framework begins this critical period of American history with a full page devoted to how “various American Indian groups repeatedly evaluated and adjusted their alliances, with Europeans, other tribes, and the new United States government” (page 32). The Framework then generously grants teachers the flexibility to discuss Pontiac’s Rebellion and Chief Little Turtle (page 32).

While the Framework emphasizes “new white-Indian conflicts along the western borders (page 36) and “the seizure of Indian lands” (page 37), it all but ignores George Washington’s life and indispensible contributions to American history. Although Washington was “first in war, first in peace, and first in the hearts of his countrymen,” he merits only one random Framework reference: “Although George Washington’s Farewell Address warned about the dangers of divisive political parties and permanent foreign alliances, European conflict and tensions with Britain and France fueled increasingly bitter partisan debates throughout the 1790s” (page 34).To put this glaring omission into perspective, imagine how South Africans would respond if an unelected agency issued a history of their country that contained just one reference to Nelson Mandela.

The Framework’s decision to all but omit George Washington extends to his command of the Continental Army. Most state and local curriculum guides require teachers to discuss the significance of Valley Forge and the battles of Saratoga and Yorktown. Instead, the College Board Framework completely ignores all Revolutionary War battles and commanders. Veterans and their families will by dismayed to discover that this is not an oversight. In fact, the College Board ignores military history from the Revolutionary War to the present day.  Students will thus not learn about the valor and sacrifices of the Army of Northern Virginia, the Army of the Potomac, the Rough Riders, the doughboys, the GI’s, and the servicemen and women who fought in Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan.

The Framework’s superficial coverage of the Revolutionary War is typical of this poorly organized unit. For example, the Framework devotes just one sentence to the Declaration of Independence (page 34). John Adams later wrote that “the Revolution was effected before the war commenced. The Revolution was in the minds and hearts of the people.” While the College Board Framework invites teachers to discuss “the architecture of Spanish missions” (page 34), it does not invite teachers to fully explore the republican ideals that motivated America’s founders. Confused students may wonder what cause motivated the signers of the Declaration of Independence, the soldiers at Valley Forge, and the framers at Independence Hall to sacrifice their lives, their fortunes, and their “sacred honor.” For example, Richard Morris risked his life and sacrificed his fortune to promote the cause of freedom.

Go here to read the rest of his critique.  Faithful readers of this blog know of my love of history.  I have only contempt for those who seek to abandon the teaching of history and substitute for a knowledge of the facts of the past a dreary mining of the past for factoids to craft politically correct fables to indoctrinate the young in “correct” politcal beliefs.  Being an educator can be a noble profession, being a propagandist is almost always an ignoble pursuit, especially when the propaganda is disguised as education.  Let the facts of American history be honestly presented to the youth of America and I have little fear for the future.

He started off in a low voice, though you could hear every word. They say he could call on the harps of the blessed when he chose. And this was just as simple and easy as a man could talk. But he didn’t start out by condemning or reviling. He was talking about the things that make a country a country, and a man a man.

And he began with the simple things that everybody’s known and felt–the freshness of a fine morning when you’re young, and the taste of food when you’re hungry, and the new day that’s every day when you’re a child. He took them up and he turned them in his hands. They were good things for any man. But without freedom, they sickened. And when he talked of those enslaved, and the sorrows of slavery, his voice got like a big bell. He talked of the early days of America and the men who had made those days. It wasn’t a spread-eagle speech, but he made you see it. He admitted all the wrong that had ever been done. But he showed how, out of the wrong and the right, the suffering and the starvations, something new had come. And everybody had played a part in it, even the traitors.

Stephen Vincent Benet, The Devil and Daniel Webster

 

 

8 Responses to American History and Political Correctness

  • Truth! Liberals (superannuated, 1960’s pot-heads and VC sympathizers with graying pony-tails) took control (now we have Federal government mandates) of, and transformed, education. Now, it’s indoctrination not education.
    .

    It’s far too easy to be a post-modern academic. The answer to every contemporary or historical (generally distorted, exaggerated or fabricated) crisis/event/movement is one or more of the following: Christianity, class, Dick Cheney, gender, George W. Bush, global warming, race, Sarah Palin, sexual orientation, WHITE MEN . . .
    .

    I have a 1965 AP, high school American History text. If any of you wants the truth about US history, I can look it up.

  • God is three Persons. The person of Jesus Christ is a sovereign citizen of the world. The Person is due “due process of law” under the Constitution.
    .
    When the Supreme Court, in Engel v. Vitale (1962) told the atheist, Madalyn Murray O’Hair, that she could “go her own way”, the Court interpreted the Constitition’s “tolerance”. Of itself, atheism is unconstitutional since atheism does the Constitution violence. “…or prohibit the free exercise therof.” Atheism prohibits all freedom of religion thereof.
    .
    The imposition of atheism in public schools to minor children, a captive audience, is unconstitutional. Atheism or the removal of public prayer in public school needs to be put on the ballot in each and every town.
    .
    Yes, the children in public school are minors whose civil rights are held in trust for them by God, by their parents and finally by the state. However, no parent or adult is barred from entering any class room to moderate, observe and challenge any violation of the students’ civil rights. (Planned Parenthood has already entered the public school classroom to indoctrinate through the United Nations)
    .
    God is the endower of civil rights. Children praying to God are exercising their civil rights to freedom and acknowledging that their civil rights are held in trust for them by God. To prohibit this act of trust in God is to deny the child his civil rights, his human soul and his freedom, all of his freedom.
    .
    This freedom is not happening in our culture. The sovereign personhood of every individual is violated. The Person of God, the citizen, is violated, the soverign personhood of the atheist is violated and there is hell to pay. Actually, the court has sent us all to hell. Time to put the public acknowledgement of our freedom in society to the ballot. Oh, that was done in 1788.
    .
    Perhaps, the Supreme Court might like to read the Constitution before it it changes the Constitution without ratification by the states.

  • Our oldest starts Kindergarten on Monday, and more and more I’m seeing how vigilant we will have to be as parents to see she and her sisters get a good and accurate education in all subjects. I pray we’ve made the right decision this year to send her to our local parish school. Many of the local Catholic high schools use AP and IB curricula just like the public schools. It will be very hard to avoid this tripe for anyone who doesn’t want to home school.

  • Good comment by T. Shaw. Mary De Voe and Mrs. Zummo are also correct. Liberals have to revise history because as Pope Leo XIII pointed out in his encyclical Libertas, they are the ones who cry, “I will not serve.” There is a liberal who runs a pro-nuclear energy blog (very odd given that the overwhelming majority of liberals are reflexively anti-nuclear energy). Everything he writes about nuclear engineering is correct. But when he writes about history or politics, his entire paradigm is so skewed that he cannot tell the true from the false, a condition that Bill Wilson in the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous identified with alcoholism. Oh no, this man is no alcoholic (at least to the best of my knowledge). But it is the “ISM” (I, Self and Me) that is the fatal disease. The ISM is the same for liberalism and it is for alcoholism.

  • KC Johnson has written on this topic. He remarked a judicial opinion which made use of a 1977 American history text as a reference. This was necessary, per Johnson, because the sort of political and institutional history that the court needed to reference is hardly being written anymore. It’s all a race-class-gender gasbag philharmonic. (The study of colonial-era aboriginal populations is much more a department of archaeology and anthropology than a department of history).

  • The College Board needs to be hit in the head with a board – a good, solid 2×4. My oldest is in first grade. The school district he attends – and I pay through the nose for – is supposedly highly rated. Property taxes are so high it ran the local Catholic grade school out of business.

    I can only imagine how the College Board has fouled up world history. At any rate, my kids will learn about history from ME. I will point them to the sources that are reliable. They will learn the truth about Islam, the Reconquest, the Deformation – as it reformed nothing, the heroic battles fought by the Knights of Malta, Lepanto and Vienna. They will learn that the Spanish conquistadores put an end to Aztec human sacrifice and the Church evangelized most of this Hemisphere. They will learn that , despite the stupid anti-Catholicism that was found throughout the Colonies, that the War for Independence would not have been won without
    Catholic help from France and Spain.

    I suspect I could teach history better than most so called present day educators. Given that my ex sister in law is a schoolteacher and did not know that Puerto Rico is a part of the United States, I’m sure there are other things she doesn’t know.

    I remember the “new math” of the early 1970s. That was a disaster.

  • Never said better: “Truth! Liberals (superannuated, 1960′s pot-heads and VC sympathizers with graying pony-tails)…” (T. Shaw, 8/23/2014) And here, in the leftist-super-populated SF Bay Area, many gaggles of super-annuated pot- and gray-pony-tailed-heads with perpetually grimacing upside-down smiles. One would think these people who are generally quite well-off and who totally control the levers of power in this state would be happy—yet they are not. Could it be they only have their materialistic “big sleep” to look forward to?
    .
    And have care lest you dare burst their thin little balloon of progressive fable and 60’s self-hypnosis. Not long ago, our quirky little family sat down to a cafe-lunch at the beautiful Palace of Legion of Honor art museum in SF. It was a beautiful sun-splashed day on the patio (not always common in summertime SF) ; people chatting, relaxing. So, as the food came out, my autistic brother instantly started the Catholic grace before meals (well, of course!), so I mean a full sign of the cross, etc and Gloria Patri at the end. We joined in, quietly. Unknown to me, but spotted by Mrs. Phoenix, behind me, at least two patrons at another table grimaced, faces turning dark, and at once got up and moved to the far end of the patio to get away from us. That sign-of-the-cross hocus pocus stuff definitely ruined the grey-pony-tails’ day.

  • “That sign-of-the-cross hocus pocus stuff definitely ruined the grey-pony-tails’ day.”

    I bet they didn’t have garlic on their table!

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