NPR Tackles the Advanced Placement Controversy in Colorado

Over the last few weeks we have done a couple of posts on the controversy surrounding new guidelines and changes to the Advanced Placement history curriculum.  You can read our coverage of AHA President James Grossman’s post here and a post on the protests over the curriculum by students in Colorado here.  At some point, when time allows, and if this is still a live story, I want to read the new AP guidelines and weigh in on the conversation.  


Yesterday National Public Radio tackled the AP controversy, with particular focus on the kids in Colorado who are protesting.  You can listen here, but in the meantime here is a small taste:

The revamped framework aims to de-emphasize rote memorization and instead develop critical thinking skills. But some conservatives say there’s an anti-American bias.

Larry Krieger, a retired New Jersey high school teacher who is leading a national fight against the new framework, testified via video conference before Colorado’s state board of education. He says the new materials don’t mention events like D-Day or key historical characters. “The founders are not discussed,” he says. “Ben Franklin: not there. James Madison: not there.”

But that doesn’t mean teachers will leave out D-Day or the nation’s founders, says Fred Anderson, a history professor at the University of Colorado who helped write the new framework.

“These are usually the very best teachers in a school. You don’t have to tell them to talk about Wilson and Madison, and Franklin and Washington at the Constitutional Convention — they do that,” he says. “They would find it incredibly condescending to be directed at that level, so the absence of mention is not in any sense an exclusion — and it’s a misconception, I think, about the framework that that’s the case.”

In Jefferson County, after two weeks of protest, the original language about patriotism was dropped. On Thursday night, the school board stripped of the most controversial language and then passed the resolution, which still creates a committee to review course materials.

Meanwhile, the College Board, which administers the AP test, says that if a school or district censors essential concepts from an AP course, that course can no longer bear the “Advanced Placement” designation.

I think this story deserves a lot of coverage here at The Way of Improvement Leads Home, but I just don’t have time to do it–at least not yet.  So at this point I will just report until I get a chance to read the new guidelines and get up to speed. Stay tuned. 

28 thoughts on “NPR Tackles the Advanced Placement Controversy in Colorado

  1. Tom ignored the basic facts and quoted from right wing sites. If that is what it takes to win an argument then your threshold is pretty low.

    Since you don't know history and you don't know pedagogy, I'd say you don't know what you are talking about. I'm used to that from the conservative side of things. If you want to learn what a lesson plan actually is, go to the UCLA site. If you want to understand what a guide actually is, look at the AP History course.

    I doubt you will do that because that would require mental exertion and original thinking.

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  2. Jimmy, Tom demolished your agruments – which really cannot be called arguments.

    All you are saying is that the opponents of the new standards are in it for the money. That kind of argument easily doubles back on your side, since there is money involved. Both sides cancel one another out on that point, since both sides stand to gain financially.

    I still don't know if Franklin and Madison are in or not, and you don't seem to know either.

    Jimmy, you didn't really engage with the topic, you just cheered for your side. That's not the same as presenting arguments to defend your side. You must feel strongly about what you are doing, but that's not enough. You get high marks for sincerity and passion, but your team still has to convince the public.

    The UCLA website is beautifully done, but what does it all mean? Can you explain without the irrelevant comments like “No, those would be the ones penned by my ancestor by marriage, Patrick Henry.”?

    Well played, Tom, and a beautiful thing to watch.

    Anyway, this is an important topic and should be discussed in a serious manner, which Tom is doing. Jimmy, you can do it if you try.

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  3. Look in the mirror yourself. Here is a link to UCLA's work in the field of history teaching. http://nchs.ucla.edu/

    You can see where intelligent people are making changes in the standards (or actually creating them).

    If you want to continue to ignore the reality of the situation, well then, that is your problem. One day you might begin to learn something about this problem, but since you prefer to ignore the root cause of it I doubt it very much.

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  4. Ad hominums I detected in Jimmy Dick's last post.:

    “…do not understand pedagogy.”
    Krieger, “..stands to lose a lot of money…”
    “The whole thing is really about money.”

    If the whole thing is really about money, then aren't the alleged pedagological purists also after money? That accusation works both ways, since whoever wins the textbook wars takes home the big prize in dollars and cents if it is indeed only about money. So I say espejo – which I doubt you will understand.

    Tom, I'm a reader, and I'm out here, and ain't I a woman?

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  5. At this point in the conversation I doubt anyone is reading anything we are saying. If they were they would be chiming in.

    You have not proven anything except that you cut and paste from rightwing sources, do not understand pedagogy, and do not understand the changes in the AP History course.

    I suppose I can add in you have proven your willingness to ignore the facts behind Krieger's complaints such as he stands to lose a lot of money from the changes to the course.

    That is the real problem. Why do you want to ignore it? This whole thing is really about money. The conservatives are just using it to rally their base while ignoring that basic truth.

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  6. Jimmy, you seem to think I'm writing to you, and not whatever reader might be out there.

    You ignore every point I make and quote I cite–including from the AP thing you're defending. This isn't a dialogue. But it is a colloquy. The reader will read both our cases.

    “Since it is so likely that children will meet cruel enemies let them at least have heard of brave knights and heroic courage.” —CS Lewis

    And there you have it.

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  7. I love how you do that in almost all of your blog posts when you are losing. You just seem to think you can utter a few words and then make a claim that your opponent is proving your point. It is the mark of ineptness on your point because you lost this argument the very minute you got involved.

    You are using a conservative rag that echos the same garbage brought up every time. Basically you are saying that American Exceptionalism is what must be taught. First of all, American Exceptionalism is wrong and is utterly dead in American historical thought. Non-Historians sure seem to love it, but historians reject it.

    Second, the issue is about pedagogy and you don't know what it is based on your last reply. You do try to insinuate you do know what it is, but fail each time.

    The AHA and OAH say the new course is good. Those two organizations know more about history than you do. They know more about teaching than you do. You are not a historian and you are not a teacher. You keep proving that in every post. What you do prove is that you know how to copy and paste (cherry pick) stuff to make you look good, but fail as usual.

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  8. Nice try, but the author used enough direct quotes

    On page 36 of the framework, we read under Key Concept 2.1 of the “strong belief in British racial and cultural superiority” which caused the British system to embrace slavery and violently confront “native peoples.” The framework earlier describes this British system as a “rigid racial hierarchy,” since, unlike their Spanish, French, and Dutch contemporaries, “who accepted intermarriage and cross-racial sexual unions with native peoples,” the English rarely “intermarried with either native peoples or Africans” (35).

    Thus it continues: the depiction of colonists as bad Englishmen whose ancestors will rebel against other bad Englishmen and become ugly Americans.
    To proclaim that no English colonists were racist would be naïve. Were their policies toward the Native Americans always just? No. Yet to suggest that colonial racism was limited to the British is equally naive. The theme of burgeoning British racial superiority continues on page 39 of the framework, where teachers are tasked with emphasizing the “racial stereotyping and the development of strict racial categories among the British colonists” as opposed to the more charitable inclinations of the Spanish and French, with their “acceptance of racial gradations.”

    to prove the point. This is pedagogical malpractice, and shows another example of how the education establishment has betrayed the trust is was given.

    Had it done its job honestly, there would have been no need for what will undoubtedly be some overcorrection.

    That you see no problem with any of this proves my point, and is also why further exchanges will be redundant. You've already illustrated my point better than I can.

    Peace.

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  9. Hardly. The Texas Board of Education has NO one on it with a degree in history. It does have David Barton advising them so go figure. It also has America's historians laughing at the state of Texas and their blatantly stupid and pathetic excuses for screwing up their kids and history.

    Here is the AHA's statement which has far more value than some propaganda made up for a conservative rag. http://historians.org/Documents/AHA%20Letters/APUSH-Framework.pdf

    Why don't you try looking at the AP course with your own two eyes instead of relying on the rhetoric which is all derived from Krieger's attempt to keep the cash cow coming home?

    Is that beyond your capability?

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  10. Nice try, but you're busted.

    The educational-industrial complex has betrayed the trust it was given, and its arguments from its own authority are hollow.

    http://thefederalist.com/2014/10/02/confessions-of-an-ap-teacher-college-boards-new-history-curriculum-is-terrible/

    Teach history. Whenever the establishment pretends to “critical thinking,” what it really means is indoctrination.

    Let’s Start with the Obvious Bias
    The framework begins with an anti-Anglo Saxon colonial bias. On page 36 of the framework, we read under Key Concept 2.1 of the “strong belief in British racial and cultural superiority” which caused the British system to embrace slavery and violently confront “native peoples.” The framework earlier describes this British system as a “rigid racial hierarchy,” since, unlike their Spanish, French, and Dutch contemporaries, “who accepted intermarriage and cross-racial sexual unions with native peoples,” the English rarely “intermarried with either native peoples or Africans” (35).

    Thus it continues: the depiction of colonists as bad Englishmen whose ancestors will rebel against other bad Englishmen and become ugly Americans.
    To proclaim that no English colonists were racist would be naïve. Were their policies toward the Native Americans always just? No. Yet to suggest that colonial racism was limited to the British is equally naive. The theme of burgeoning British racial superiority continues on page 39 of the framework, where teachers are tasked with emphasizing the “racial stereotyping and the development of strict racial categories among the British colonists” as opposed to the more charitable inclinations of the Spanish and French, with their “acceptance of racial gradations.” And thus it continues: the depiction of colonists as bad Englishmen whose ancestors will rebel against other bad Englishmen and become ugly Americans. I don’t think that is what John Winthrop envisioned, flawed Englishman that he was, in his “City on a Hill” sermon to the Puritans aboard the Arabella—a document and philosophy traditionally taught in U.S. history classes but conspicuously missing from the redesigned framework.

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  11. Are Franklin and Madison in? Well let's see. Since the Constitution and Virginia Resolves are included as primary sources I would say Madison is in.

    The Virginia Resolves of 1765, when James Madison was 14 years old?

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  12. Are Franklin and Madison in? Well let's see. Since the Constitution and Virginia Resolves are included as primary sources I would say Madison is in.

    The Virginia Resolves of 1865, when James Madison was 14 years old?

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  13. Are Franklin and Madison in? Well let's see. Since the Constitution and Virginia Resolves are included as primary sources I would say Madison is in.
    Since you are not an educator let me explain this to you. The revision to the course is pedagogical. Instead of a force fed top down approach to history, the new version is more of a bottom up approach, but in reality it is an inquiry or problem based model more than anything. You can look to Sam Wineburg, Bob Bain, Peter Seixas, Peter Stearns, Gary Nash and others for their work in helping to build a pedagogical model for use in the discipline of history.

    The new AP course is really an outline for instructors to work with in building their course lessons. I cannot imagine anyone leaving James Madison out of the discussion. Franklin is a may or may not depending on the approach the instructor uses. If they use a goalpost approach I would say Franklin is in, but how deep I wouldn't say. That will vary per instructor.

    The AP course is sound. It is backed by the AHA and OAH. In other words it is backed by historians. It is backed by educators. The complaints are unfounded.

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  14. Are Franklin and Madison in or out?

    Until you do that you're just another flapping mouth making a lot of noise with nothing to back it up.

    Not a very good advertisement of educators and their critical thinking.

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  15. We do teach history, Tom. You just do not know your history and disagree with the way it is taught. If you want to teach it, get out there and learn it, then learn how to teach. Until you do that you're just another flapping mouth making a lot of noise with nothing to back it up.

    As for backing it up, J.L. Bell did. http://boston1775.blogspot.com/2014/09/what-lies-behind-complaints-about-ap-us.html

    Basically, Larry Krieger lied. If you want to believe him, go for it. I will teach history the way it happened. You won't like it, but since you don't know it, that's your problem.

    I would share my upcoming dissertation information with you, but I don't want to waste it on someone who refuses to learn. I put the learning-centered practices into motion and the results are encouraging.

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  16. Are Madison and Franklin in or out? Sticking to the subject is the first requirement of “critical thinking.”

    [Sophistries such as ad hom are the enemy.]

    So is your argument from authority that a job teaching a few classes makes one an “educator” and therefore not only an expert on “critical thinking” but capable of teaching it.

    Further, a teenager with restricted access to the facts of history is more likely to go where his “educator”leads him: As they say, a good prosecutor can get a grand jury to indict a ham sandwich.

    To those getting on the high horse of being “educators,” I say cut the “critical thinking” BS and do your damn job first. Teach history.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/govbeat/wp/2014/09/18/only-36-percent-of-americans-can-name-the-three-branches-of-government/

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  17. Well Tom, if you would take the time to actually go through the course instead of undergoing the usual kneejerk you might see what it says instead of what Larry alleges.

    If you were an educator with any pedagogical training you would also see the way the course is striving to develop critical thinking skills. However, you are not an educator so you will not see it. Nor will you because you chose not to.

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  18. Baldly vague and evasive. “The Founders” are “present?” That could mean almost anything.

    Even someone who's not an “educator” can see that doesn't pass any “critical thinking” test.

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  19. No, Tom, it's the truth. You just don't like it when it conflicts with your worldview. The Founders are present in the revised course. Krieger is just trying to make a controversy where none exists in order to protect his income.

    The revised pedagogy is about developing critical thinking skills. If you were an educator you might understand that, but you are not one.

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  20. Larry Krieger owns Insider Test Prep, a company that makes and sells study guides and aids for the SAT, ACT, and AP courses. The change in pedagogical model is going to cause him to lose millions of dollars because the shift reduces those guides and aids quite a bit in their effectiveness.

    Krieger's accusations have been examined with earlier versions of the AP History course and oddly enough he seems to have made statements that have no basis in reality. J.L. Bell did some investigation of this on his blog and you can read the results here. http://boston1775.blogspot.com/2014/09/what-lies-behind-complaints-about-ap-us.html

    This complaint by Krieger is really about the money he is going to lose.

    Even stipulating the ad hom and the cui bono, are Madison and Franklin missing or not?

    First things first. “Critical thinking,” at least when properly taught. Go for the truth of the matter before you slime the speaker. Krieger certainly has motivation to speak up.

    But that is not a refudiation. It's slime.

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  21. Larry Krieger owns Insider Test Prep, a company that makes and sells study guides and aids for the SAT, ACT, and AP courses. The change in pedagogical model is going to cause him to lose millions of dollars because the shift reduces those guides and aids quite a bit in their effectiveness.

    Krieger's accusations have been examined with earlier versions of the AP History course and oddly enough he seems to have made statements that have no basis in reality. J.L. Bell did some investigation of this on his blog and you can read the results here. http://boston1775.blogspot.com/2014/09/what-lies-behind-complaints-about-ap-us.html

    This complaint by Krieger is really about the money he is going to lose.

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  22. Larry Krieger, a retired New Jersey high school teacher who is leading a national fight against the new framework, testified via video conference before Colorado's state board of education. He says the new materials don't mention events like D-Day or key historical characters. “The founders are not discussed,” he says. “Ben Franklin: not there. James Madison: not there.”

    As long as Sojourner Truth is in, no worries, mate.

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