Why Neither the Right or the Left Will Be Happy With the New AP United States History Exam

I have not spent a lot of time following the debate over the recent changes to the AP United States history course.  Too busy with other things.  I am just starting to catch up.

In 2014 controversy raged when the College Board came out with a new “curriculum framework” for the course. Conservatives thought the framework was too driven by leftist ideology.  It neglected the founding fathers, American exceptionalism, and patriotism.

Liberal historians (who make up most of the historical profession) defended the new framework by educating the public about historical thinking skills and revisionism. You can get up to speed here and here.

The College Board listened to the criticisms and published a new curriculum framework in 2015. Some historians thought that the College Board caved into conservative criticism. Jeremy Stern, who was involved in the rewriting, is not so sure.  His recent piece defending the new curriculum guidelines strikes me as a reasonable middle ground.  Here is a taste:

The AP US History framework (APUSH) that took effect in 2014 aroused a firestorm of controversy and criticism, chiefly from the right – quickly mounting to accusations of conspiracies to impose an unpatriotic, anti-American mindset in students; denunciations by state legislatures and the Republican National Committee; even Ben Carson’s declaration that the APUSH course would leave students ready to join ISIS.
Many such critics failed to grasp the actual purpose of the document: it is not a comprehensive curriculum for APUSH classrooms (let alone an imposed mandate for all high school students), but rather a guide to the content that would appear on the redesigned APUSH exam.1 Thus, accusations that X figure or Y event had been “erased” are nonsensical: AP teachers choose their own substantive details to illustrate the framework’s broader concepts.
Nonetheless, there were legitimate concerns. While the concept and many parts of the content were sound, the framework too often took a tendentious and judgmental approach to history, appearing to urge condemnation of the past for its failure to live up to present-day moral standards. Such an approach – ignoring historical context in favor of current ideological and political priorities – is presentism, not history.2
Most organizations respond to criticism by circling the wagons and preparing for battle. Instead, to its lasting credit, the College Board took substantive criticism seriously, both from analysts with an explicitly conservative outlook (such as Chester Finn and Rick Hess) and historians such as myself. Teacher feedback would normally lead to minor revisions, but the Board instead announced an open comment period, soliciting input from all interested parties.3 The result was an extensively revised 2015 version, which has commendably sought to strike an ideologically balanced middle ground, presenting the realities of the past – good, bad and ugly – in historical context and without presentistic judgment.
The 2014 version, for example, repeatedly singled out the British North American colonies as uniquely intolerant, violent and oppressive (unfavorably comparing them with the frequently brutal Spanish empire). In the 2015 version, slavery and violence against Native Americans are not “whitewashed,” but are put into wider historical context. The Atlantic slave trade, discussed in 2014 almost uniquely in terms of British North America, in fact predated those colonies by a century, and the vast majority of slaves actually went to the Caribbean and Brazil; also, powerful African states captured and sold virtually all the slaves bought by European traders on the African coast – all points the revision correctly notes, while still emphasizing the colonies’ extensive reliance on slavery. The complexities of inter-Indian warfare and native-colonial alliances are also acknowledged, without downplaying the tragic costs of European colonization for native peoples.
The historically crucial rise of relatively egalitarian societies and representative political institutions in the colonies – all but ignored in the 2014 version – is now given due weight. What was egalitarian by 17th century standards is of course absurdly limited to modern eyes, denying even basic rights to women and non-whites – but one must understand why and how such societies and institutions were exceptional for their time to understand the foundation on which later expansions of freedom were laboriously built. Likewise, the Jacksonian rise of near-universal white male suffrage, an extraordinarily radical concept in its day (barely mentioned in the 2014 version) is now properly described in the revision.
The benefits and costs of industrialization and urbanization are now notably balanced – without downplaying the terrible realities of urban poverty and labor exploitation. In the 2014 version, western settlement was discussed almost entirely in terms of its dire impact on increasingly besieged native peoples, with no attention given to the settlers’ aims and worldview (a crucial part of the story, whatever we think today of their actions in pursuit of those aims); now, Indians’ plight and resistance receive just as much weight as before – but the settler viewpoint is explained as well.
The 2014 framework seemed to invite students to condemn the use of the atomic bomb on Japan in 1945; now it is presented as a disputed point. Coverage of the Reagan era – always difficult ground, given its contested place in today’s political battles – came across as dismissive in the 2014 version; now it notably avoids taking sides, presenting both the roots and goals of the New Conservatism as well as its critics’ views.
Other changes simply improved substance and clarity. The key role of Washington and the first Congress in making the constitutional system work is now noted. The reasons for colonial objections to parliamentary taxation are now discussed, making better sense of Revolutionary grievances.4 The blind-spots of some Progressive-era activists towards minorities and immigrants are now given appropriate and contextual coverage (thus expanding discussion of racial segregation and the prevalence of violent racial prejudice).
None of these changes even remotely amount to “triumphalism.” Slavery, war, poverty and minorities’ long struggles for rights and recognition are not downplayed or whitewashed – they are simply presented in context, without a biased tone of presentistic judgment. The aim, indeed, was never to swing from left to right, to replace one bias with another. Conservative critics were an important source of input – but so were historians and educators, myself among them, who were not on the right. I would have fiercely opposed any simple move to the right: I am just as critical of right-wing bias as of left-wing bias… as my review of Texas’s grossly ideological 2010 social studies standards should make clear. The aim, as much as possible, was to achieve a balanced document, describing past events in historical context on their own terms, not through the eyes of present day moral judgment.

39 thoughts on “Why Neither the Right or the Left Will Be Happy With the New AP United States History Exam

  1. You may disagree with me on that, but I have to inform you that you are wrong on that account. See Sam Wineburg at Stanford University for more on that subject.

    “Critical thinking,” ladies and gentlemen. Tim Kowal is wrong because some guy at Stanford is right. Why? We are not told. Elvis has left the building, escaped through the back door. I left my argument…over there somewhere.

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  2. “I do not know how history can be learned except by reading a lot of it. Help kids learn the difference between source documents and narratives, and teach them to critique the latter against the former. If they're going to really learn any history that's what they'll need to carry forward beyond a history class.”

    Having students read is a great idea. Getting them to read is quite another. I use the flipped classroom method which does involve reading, but unfortunately I cannot push them to read in great depth like a history major would. That is due to the fact I teach survey classes primarily. Source documents and narratives are part of the Day One teaching lesson.

    I do not expect students taking survey classes to remember everything shortly after they leave the class at the end of the semester. They are busy learning a lot of things in a short period of time. What I do hope they remember are the themes involved in history, how it is about change over time, and how to use sources to seek facts instead of relying upon assumptions. In order to do that, developing critical thinking skills is important.

    Nor do I see much value for purposes of studying history in “try[ing] to see [history] with a lens that is not our own.”

    You may disagree with me on that, but I have to inform you that you are wrong on that account. See Sam Wineburg at Stanford University for more on that subject. You bring up baseline demand which is really interesting because as Andrew Hartman explains here, the National History Standards and Common Core standards were really brought on by conservatives who wanted baseline standards. http://historynewsnetwork.org/article/160421

    They just were not happy with the standards that teams of historians and educators developed because they did not match with what the non-historians thought they should be. Gary Nash explained this in his book, “History on Trial.”

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  3. “By now you should understand that pedagogy involves ideology. There is no real neutrality.” Stipulated.

    “However, it is important to realize that the natural state of things is literally about progress;”

    That depends. Earlier you suggested conservatism is aligned with authority and leftism (aka “progress”?) is aligned against it. But this is clearly not always the case (leftism has been closely associated with state economic authority, with conservatism only relatively recently aligning against it, and even then only in certain cases), and in the case of speech, the left has been siding closely with authority (see campus speech codes). Citing “progress” will not do your explanatory work for you.

    “…hence historical thinking tends to run along what we call leftist ideology. There is a reason why so many historians think to the left of the political spectrum as well as educators. It is natural. To go to the right of the spectrum is unnatural.”

    Here we've collapsed into tautology — which relates to the formal objection: “historical thinking” is “leftist ideology” because “historians” and “educators” (those who do the “historical thinking”) are “left of the political spectrum” (i.e., “leftist ideology”).

    But I think you're trying to argue more than that — that history is leftist because leftism is “natural.” But this is another portentous word that is not going to do your work for you.

    I also reject the suggestion that we need to find a “middle” ground, as it represents magical thinking: an epistemological position that takes no epistemological position yet evaluates and passes judgment on all other epistemological positions.

    Nor do I see much value for purposes of studying history in “try[ing] to see [history] with a lens that is not our own.” There is certainly moral value in it, and the subject of anthropological study. But history tries to understand what happened. It is the focus of social-justice warriors to weaponize history by freezing and polarizing sins of the past. Leftists are drawn to history, and they see to it that history “progresses” — “naturally”!

    And it is for this reason that we have these arguments: while conservatives might prefer their ideology be taught, the baseline demand is that history at least confine itself to teaching what happened, rather than radicalizing children by laser-focusing on and sensationalizing the pain of historical grievances.

    I do not know how history can be learned except by reading a lot of it. Help kids learn the difference between source documents and narratives, and teach them to critique the latter against the former. If they're going to really learn any history that's what they'll need to carry forward beyond a history class.

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  4. If you want to bring up critical thinking it helps to know what it is. What is critical thinking? A lot of it deals with questioning assumptions. Critical thinking involves deliberately trying to find out what these assumptions are (Brookfield, 2012). Brookfield also stresses that the whole point of critical thinking it to take informed action. That action is based on thought and analysis. To do that one needs evidence. Developing that evidence goes to checking assumptions whereupon one can take informed action.

    By now you should understand that pedagogy involves ideology. There is no real neutrality. However, it is important to realize that the natural state of things is literally about progress; hence historical thinking tends to run along what we call leftist ideology. There is a reason why so many historians think to the left of the political spectrum as well as educators. It is natural. To go to the right of the spectrum is unnatural.

    Of course, the real issue is what is the middle of the spectrum? How can we define that middle? How much of that definition is actually based on what we want to believe is the middle when so many people have differing views? I posit there is no definable middle due to the number of people and their differing views. Not only that, but one can have views regarded as being on either side of the spectrum on different issues. When we look back at history though, we can see the past, albeit not it perfection due to the ever present reality of missing information. The trick is to try to see it with a lens that is not our own. Again, that is unnatural and difficult to do.

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  5. Discussion tests the idea, not the man. Besides, original thought on the internet tends to occur, if ever, above the comments. Had Mr. Van Dyke offered uncited argument, we can anticipate reasonable objection on grounds of: “says you.”

    At any rate, the standing formal objection remains: “critical thinking” is little more than clothing ideology in pedagogy. Or at least, there's nothing to stop it. Your response, to my surprise, appears to join in the objection.

    Indeed, it should not be unusual for thinking people to agree on preliminaries (even if the internet often makes it impossible to agree on how many eggs are in a dozen). As Democritus said, nothing exists except atoms and empty space; everything else is opinion. History, to the extent it moves beyond dates and names, is the business of making judgments — about causation, about values, about morality, about human nature, all of which become the corpus of historical facts. The trouble with facts is that there are so many of them. Hence the need for ideology, a theory of facts. The object, then, cannot be to eliminate ideology, but to develop it and understand its limits — and in the very first place, to simply be honest that we have one.

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  6. Blogger Tim Kowal said…

    Let us argue the merits and seek truth in the light of day, not bury our advocacy in lesson plans and curricula under the false flag of neutrality, or “critical thinking.”

    August 25, 2015 at 2:16 AM
    Blogger Jimmy Dick said…
    “You can't stay neutral on a moving train.” Howard Zinn

    There it is, folks. Good night and drive safely.

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  7. “You can't stay neutral on a moving train.” Howard Zinn

    Presentism is nothing new. People always seek to establish the present via their understanding of the past. The problem is when the people of the present can only see the past via their understanding of the present. That is very common and I think it is a natural thing to do. That is why history is such a difficult subject for many people because they cannot separate the two. It is an unnatural act. Sam Wineburg has studied this and worked on it along with many other historian/educators who focus on history education more than historical research.

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  8. Jimmy Dick said: “This course emphasizes learning, not memorization.”

    It's been over 20 years since I took AP US history, but it was not mere memorization then. Maybe something get lost in the interim, but this looks like a strawman coming under abuse.

    “you can only see the world in black and white. Your bias is rather evident by your choice of articles you love to link. You work from a system built on beliefs and reject facts.”

    I do not find in the record of this post any direct evidence or these charges of manicheanism and epistemic disability. But methinks I am coming in on a lovers' quarrel.

    “conservatives do not like this because it means questioning things conservatives do not want questioned. Say for example authority. Liberalism involves questioning it. Conservatism depends on not questioning it.”

    Surely an advocate of critical thinking cannot stand by such a simplistic and unequivocal claim about such sprawling terms like “liberalism” and “conservatism.” And if staid critical thinkers slip into such unforced errors, perhaps its virtues are oversold. There is no more certain way to know a person is talking rot as when they tell you they are “unbiased.” “Critical” thinking owes not less than to say what is to be “critiqued,” and more importantly: against what? To posit a “critical theory,” to use the words of Hadley Arkes, “is to suggest that an observer, looking on, can see played out before him people seized with “theories” – that he may stand there, in a wholesome detachment, seeing theories of various sorts whizzing past. From that vantage point we are encouraged to make judgments about the theories, or fragments of theories, that are plausible or implausible, right or wrong, true or false. I said then: Just tell me the ground on which you are making those judgments about the theories that are plausible or implausible, true or false, and you would have been led back to the ground of what I understand as the natural law.”

    Hadley Arkes has a theory, and he is honest enough to admit it and subject it to examination. One of the objects of “critical theory” of history is that it plays coy with its “theory” — it pokes and prods at ideas which it disfavors, implicitly arguing for the contrary while explicitly insisting on neutrality. By pointing this out I do not take sides — I assert only a formal objection: history with an explicit agenda, right or wrong, is at least more honest than history with a “neutral” agenda. After all, without an agenda — a narrative — history is rote memorization, which we agree is out.

    “You would have had to bring an original idea to the table. … You have nothing original to say, so you are nothing to me.”

    Case in point: is this not bias in favor of the new — i.e., presentism?

    Let us argue the merits and seek truth in the light of day, not bury our advocacy in lesson plans and curricula under the false flag of neutrality, or “critical thinking.”

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  9. Still no history lesson from you. You really do not concern me, Tom. You have nothing original to say, so you are nothing to me. As for not being slapped back, you can't do it. All you do is post a link and troll pages while whining about things changing that you don't like.

    Don't you have some kids to yell at for getting onto your lawn?

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  10. Have fun being left in the dust by progress.

    Anyone who has studied the 20th century finds this a creepy sentiment. You may arrogate all the good that happened for “progress,” but any critical thinker worth his salt knows that the greatest evil on the greatest scale in man's history was done in the 20th century in the name of “progress.”

    I've deflected your ad hominem attacks, Mr. 25 Bucks an Hour Community College Adjunct, in hopes that you'd realize how much you've been forgiven, how much you have not been slapped back, how much your ruthlessness against myself and others has amounted to nothing.

    You hold the dust. “Progress.” Squeeze tightly, brother. So it has always been.

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  11. Oh, the National Association of Scholars is a rightwing advocacy group for your information. But you already knew that because you never look at anything but rightwing sites for information. That's your closed mind at work.

    Still waiting on an original lesson plan from you.

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  12. No problem, Tom. The American Historical Association supports the 2014 AP History course as does the Organization of American Historians.

    http://www.historians.org/publications-and-directories/perspectives-on-history/october-2014/aha-statement-of-support

    http://www.oah.org/programs/news/historical-organizations-react-to-the-ap-u.s-history-debate/
    The article you linked is about the 2014 version, not 2015. And I do take it up with them every day when I teach. If they want to teach American Exceptionalism, they need to resign their positions. I pay my dues to the OAH which does not support lying to students in the name of American propaganda.

    I also question this list because I know for a fact that Steven Woodworth does not teach American Exceptionalism.

    And one more thing. Where's that history lesson plan, Tom? Can't you do something original? What are you going to do? Post another link by someone else?

    Really, any list when Lynne Cheney on it shows a complete rejection of intelligence. She started the National History Standards and then used it for political purposes. Gary Nash caught her lying about it more than once, but then what do you expect from a conservative? Lying to Americans has been their stock in trade for some time.

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  13. Nicholas Doom, Instructor in AP U.S. History and Social Studies, Anderson W. Clark Magnet High School, La Crescenta, California

    John C. Eastman, Henry Salvatori Professor of Law and Community Service and Former Dean, Dale E. Fowler School of Law at Chapman University

    John T. Fishel, Lecturer, International and Area Studies, College of International Studies, The University of Oklahoma, and Emeritus Professor

    Matthew Franck, Director, William E. and Carol G. Simon Center on Religion and the Constitution, Witherspoon Institute,

    Professor Emeritus of Political Science, Radford University

    Burton W. Folsom Jr., Charles F. Kline Chair in History and Management, Hillsdale College

    Kevin Gutzman, Professor and Chair-elect of History, Western Connecticut State University

    Don Hickey, Professor of History, Wayne State College

    Kevin Jenkins, Associate Professor, Tift College of Education, Mercer University

    Donald Kagan, Dean Emeritus, Yale College, and Sterling Professor of Classics and History, Yale University

    Kevin Kijewski, Superintendent of Schools, Archdiocese of Denver, and Adjunct Professor of Education, University of Southern California Rossier School of Education

    Robert C. Koons, Professor of Philosophy, University of Texas at Austin

    Kirby Lehman, Former Superintendent, Jenks Public Schools

    James W. Muller, Professor and Chair of Political Science, University of Alaska, Anchorage

    William Nancarrow, Interim Dean of Faculty, Associate Professor of History, Curry College

    Patrick Nolan, Professor Emeritus of Sociology, University of South Carolina

    Ronald Pestritto, Graduate Dean and Professor of Politics and Charles and Lucia Shipley Chair in the American Constitution, Hillsdale College

    Roger Ream, President, Fund for American Studies

    Glenn Ricketts, Professor of Political Science, Raritan Valley Community College, Public Affairs Director, National Association of Scholars

    Kevin Roberts, President, Wyoming Catholic College

    David Schaefer, Professor of Political Science, College of the Holy Cross

    Maimon Schwarzschild, Professor of Law, University of San Diego

    Larry Schwiekart, Professor of History, University of Dayton

    Colleen Sheehan, Professor of Political Science, Villanova University, Director, Ryan Center for the Study of Free Institutions, member, Pennsylvania State Board of Education

    Meghan Slanina, AP U.S. History and AP U.S. Government instructor, Holy Name High School, Parma Heights, Ohio

    Steven Smith, Research Associate Professor in Archeology and Anthropology, South Carolina Institute of Archaeology, University of South Carolina

    Michael Uhlmann, Research Professor of American Politics, Claremont Graduate University

    David M. Whalen, Provost and Professor of English, Hillsdale College

    Steven E. Woodworth, Professor of History, Texas Christian University

    If you would like to be considered as an additional signatory, please see instructions at http://www.nas.org/articles/open_letter_american_historians

    ____________________

    I do hope I've made my point. Community college instructors are not the only game in town.

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  14. Ted McAllister, Edward L. Gaylord Chair, and Associate Professor of Public Policy, Pepperdine University

    Wilfred McClay, G.T. and Libby Blankenship Chair in the History of Liberty, and Director of the Center for the History of Liberty, University of Oklahoma

    Robert Merry, Historian, former Publishing Executive

    Wilson D. Miscamble, Professor of History, University of Notre Dame

    Joshua Mitchell, Professor of Government, Georgetown University

    Paul D. Moreno, William and Berniece Grewcock Chair in Constitutional History, Hillsdale College

    Mark Moyar, Senior Fellow, Joint Special Operations University, and Author of Triumph Forsaken

    Johnathan O’Neill, Chair, Department of History, Georgia Southern University

    Robert Paquette, Professor of History, Hamilton College

    Ronald Radosh, Professor Emeritus of 20th Century US History, The City University of New York, and Hudson Institute

    Paul Rahe, Charles O. Lee and Louise K. Lee Chair in the Western Heritage, and Professor of History, Hillsdale College

    Thomas Reeves, Professor Emeritus of History, University of Wisconsin-Parkside

    Daniel Robinson, Fellow, Faculty of Philosophy, University of Oxford

    Diana Schaub, Professor of Political Science, Loyola University Maryland

    Mark Smith, Carolina Distinguished Professor of History, University of South Carolina

    James Stoner, Professor of Political Science, Louisiana State University

    Sandra Stotsky, Professor Emerita of Education Reform, University of Arkansas

    Stephan Thernstrom, Winthrop Professor Emeritus of History, Harvard University, and Senior Fellow, Manhattan Institute

    Jean M. Yarbrough, Gary M. Pendy Sr. Professor of Social Sciences, Bowdoin College

    Donald Yerxa, former Director, The Historical Society, and Editor, Historically Speaking

    Additional Signatories as of June 10, 2015
    **Affiliation for identification purposes only

    Michael Allen, Professor of History, School of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences, University of Washington, Tacoma

    Elizabeth Altham, Instructor in AP U.S. History, Our Lady of the Sacred Heart Academy, Rockford, Illinois

    Douglas Ambrose, Professor of History, Hamilton College

    Michael Barton, Professor of American Studies and Social Science, Pennsylvania State University at Harrisburg

    Fred Baumann, Professor of Political Science, Kenyon College

    Christopher Beneke, Associate Professor of History, Bentley University

    Jay Bergman, Professor of History, Central Connecticut State University

    Suzanne Geissler Bowles, Professor of History and American Studies Minor Coordinator, William Paterson University

    Kent Masterson Brown, President, Witnessing History, LLC

    Richard Buitron, Adjunct Professor, San Antonio College

    Jonathan Burack, President, Burack Educational Services

    Michael Burlingame, Chancellor Naomi B. Lynn Distinguished Chair in Lincoln Studies, History Department, University of Illinois at Springfield

    Ashley Cruseturner, Professor of History, McLennan Community College

    Paul du Quenoy, Associate Professor of History, American University of Beirut

    William C. Dennis, Former Professor of American History, Denison University, and former President, Philadelphia Society

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  15. Signatories

    John Agresto, former President, St. John’s College-Santa Fe, and former Deputy Chairman, National Endowment for the Humanities

    Patrick N. Allitt, Cahoon Family Professor of American History, Emory University

    Stephen H. Balch, Director of The Institute for the Study of Western Civilization, Texas Tech University, and Founder, National Association of Scholars

    Herman J. Belz, Professor Emeritus of History, University of Maryland

    Gerard V. Bradley, Professor of Law, University of Notre Dame

    James W. Ceaser, Harry F. Byrd Professor of Politics, University of Virginia

    James Jay Carafano, Military Historian, and Vice President, Foreign and Defense Policy Studies, E. W. Richardson Fellow, and Director of the Kathryn and Shelby Cullom Davis Institute for International Studies, Heritage Foundation

    John “Chuck” Chalberg, Professor of History, Normandale College

    Lynne Cheney, Former Chair, National Endowment for the Humanities

    Bruce Cole, Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Art History, Indiana University, former Chairman of National Endowment for the Humanities, and Senior Fellow, Ethics and Public Policy Center

    Patrick J. Deneen, David A. Potenziani Memorial Associate Professor of Constitutional Studies and Associate Professor of Political Science, University of Notre Dame

    Robert Faulkner, Research Professor of Political Science, Boston College

    John Fonte, Senior Fellow and Director of the Center for American Common Culture, Hudson Institute

    Richard Fonte, Former Director, We the People Project, National Endowment for the Humanities, Former President, Austin Community College

    Robert George, McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence and Director of the James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions, Princeton University

    Charles Glenn, Professor of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies, Boston University, and Co-Chair, International Conference on School Choice and Reform 2015

    Susan Hanssen, Associate Professor of History, University of Dallas

    Victor Davis Hanson, Martin and Illie Anderson Senior Fellow, Classics and Military History, The Hoover Institution, Stanford University

    John Earl Haynes, 20th Century Political Historian, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress

    Michael Holt, Langbourne M. Williams Professor Emeritus of American History, University of Virginia

    Philip Jenkins, Distinguished Professor of History, Baylor University

    Robert Davis Johnson, Professor of History, Brooklyn College, The City University of New York

    Amy A. Kass, Sr. Lecturer Emerita, University of Chicago
    Leon R. Kass, Addie Clark Harding Professor Emeritus, Committee on Social Thought, The University of Chicago, and Madden-Jewett Scholar, American Enterprise Institute

    Charles Kesler, Dengler-Dykema Distinguished Professor of Government, Claremont McKenna College

    Ralph Ketcham, Professor Emeritus of History, Public Affairs, and Political Science, Syracuse University, and Senior Research Associate, Campbell Public Affairs Institute

    Joseph Kett, James Madison Professor Emeritus of History, University of Virginia

    Harvey Klehr, Andrew W. Mellon Professor of Politics and History, Emory University

    Yuval Levin, Editor, National Affairs, and Hertog Fellow, Ethics and Public Policy Center

    Gordon Lloyd, Robert and Katheryn Dockson Professor of Public Policy, Pepperdine University

    Herb London, Professor Emeritus and former John M. Olin Professor of Humanities, New York University, and former President, Hudson Institute

    Myron Magnet, Manhattan Institute, and Author of The Founders at Home: The Building of America, 1735-1817

    Joyce Malcolm, Patrick Henry Professor of Constitutional Law and the Second Amendment, George Mason University School of Law

    Harvey Mansfield, William R. Kenan Jr. Professor of Government, Harvard University

    Peter Mansoor, Raymond E. Mason Jr. Chair in Military History, Ohio State University

    George Marsden, Professor Emeritus of History, University of Notre Dame

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  16. As used by my correspondent, it's quite evident. Vietnam, Reagan. It's to laugh.

    Normal people call it “thinking.” Anything with “critical” attached is usually code for a certain agenda, an arrogation of truth. [Like anything that ends in “Studies.”] To disagree with that particular worldview/ideology is somehow to be guilty of not thinking “critically.”

    Nice racket.

    Unless I miss my guess, Chris, there's a circling of the wagons here, and I'm just not up for a back-alley fight, nor will I be marginalized for my lack of credentials, one of Mr. Dick's reliable tactics. For those interested in the actual topic, the fun is just beginning.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2015/06/11/historians-blast-advanced-placement-u-s-history-framework/

    Take it up with these fellows [below]. Someone has to put their foot down, and that foot is them.

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  17. I did not think you could make a lesson plan on your own. All you can do is whine and repeat what others say. Such a lack of original or dare I say, critical thinking on your part. Poor Tom, stuck in nowhereland.

    If you want to change things, you have to be capable of learning. Until you can do that, you will change nothing.

    Have a nice day, Tom!

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  18. Surely you jest. It's quite a bit too late for you to request [demand!] civil discussion. Since we you have exposed your own political agenda, and you approve of the new standards, we have shown the readers [if any] the issues. Our work here is quite done: It's rather clear that to approve of the new standards, it's necessary to share not only your politics, but your vociferousness in asserting that yours is the only valid opinion.

    Now if you were arguing that the standards don't go far enough to the left, that would be even more amusing. I can only hope that your fellows in the edu-industrial complex have taken a bit of caution about both the tone and substance of the left's hegemony over not just content but inquiry and discourse itself, which has become destructive and tyrannical, and often rude.

    We have allowed American history to slip into the hands of those who despise it. It does seem that the pushback has been partially successful, but there's quite a long road to go.

    http://www.firstthings.com/article/2015/04/the-end-of-the-university

    “In a sort of ghastly simplicity we remove the organ and demand the function…We laugh at honour and are shocked to find traitors in our midst.”–CS Lewis, The Abolition of Man

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  19. Sure about that, Tom? You would have had to bring an original idea to the table. You failed to do that. All you ever do is repeat someone else's ideas. You're a one trick pony.

    Since you think you know so much, let's see something from you, not someone else.
    Earlier you brought this up which of course was from someone else.

    “The first historical period (1491-1607), for example, is still shaped by a “three worlds meet” approach descended from the leftist National History Standards of 1994. In other words, the revised framework remains aggressively relativist, avoiding consideration of the deeper cultural sources of Western expansion and success. The emphasis instead is on mutual interaction and influence among European settlers, Native Americans, and African slaves.

    There was mutual influence among these three groups, of course, but the core story of how the Renaissance individualism, learning, innovation, science, and enterprise sparked a world-changing cultural transformation is evaded.”

    Now, you do not like what is being taught. Show me your lesson plan for teaching what you want taught. Not someone else's lesson plan, but your own. The National History Standards of 1994 are referenced here. Show us your standards, not someone else's.

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  20. You'll never know will you? Two things you won't be doing any time soon. Learning history or going to a Bernie Sanders rally. Two things you should be doing so you can open up that closed mind of yours.

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  21. Partisan agenda? More of the PC crap. Sorry Tom, but it is historical correctness. One day if you actually studied history instead of insisting that it conform to what you want to believe you might learn something. Until then, you will just continue to whine. You say a lot of stuff about things you know so little about. Congratulations! That's the conservative way!

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  22. Blogger Jimmy Dick said…
    So are you going to teach a patriotic history? We've seen that. Remember Vietnam? That's what a patriotic history brings. I would say the 2003 Iraq invasion, but because the patriotism was not there, the conservatives had to lie their asses off to make that happen. You might recall the American Historian's Association and Organization of American Historians opposed that conflict. Why? Because they were correct and the US government in the form of George W. Bush and his conservative administration lied to get what they wanted.

    Exactly. Keep digging, Professor. Not opinion, not indoctrination, critical thinking.

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  23. Hey, if you don't like the curriculum you can write your own. Let's think about that a minute shall we? Who wrote the AP course? Historians and Educators, not David Barton wannabes. If conservatives want to be historians, then they can stop running their mouths and whining about the course content, get off their privileged behinds, and start learning history.

    That's where the problem begins because the history that Mr. Buckley wants to believe in does not exist. American Exceptionalism is nothing more than political propaganda. If you want to teach it, then you have to make it up. You know it is really interesting how you love to link stuff to people who are not historians. But then you are not one either, are you? Nor are you an educator.

    Let's look at what a historian has to say. How about Gary Nash who had to go through some of the worst of the culture wars when conservatives freaked out when the national standards they themselves had desired turned out not to reflect their own beliefs, but instead historical facts. You want patriotism and love of country taught. You cannot teach those. They have to be earned by the deeds of the people themselves. Let's face it, Americans have often failed to live up to the principles this nation was founded upon.

    “It is not surprising that the political Right would open a history front in the culture wars. History, like politics, is about national identity. Hence the work of historians frequently comes under attack amid calls for refurbishing or restoring the national identity.”

    So are you going to teach a patriotic history? We've seen that. Remember Vietnam? That's what a patriotic history brings. I would say the 2003 Iraq invasion, but because the patriotism was not there, the conservatives had to lie their asses off to make that happen. You might recall the American Historian's Association and Organization of American Historians opposed that conflict. Why? Because they were correct and the US government in the form of George W. Bush and his conservative administration lied to get what they wanted. Should have listened to a historian, but instead they get to hear the words of George Santayana again. You had better remember them as well because you are going down that same ideological path of doom again.

    “Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

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  24. “Liberals claim to want to give a hearing to other views, but then are shocked and offended to discover that there are other views.”–Wm. F. Buckley, Jr.

    Before I'm shouted down any further, to return to the actual topic, these are the other views. “Leftist bias” is not so much in what is said [all nations, states and peoples have their crimes and butcher's bills], but what is covered and what is not, what is minimized and what is emphasized.

    http://www.powerlineblog.com/archives/2015/07/ap-u-s-history-framework-remains-flawed-college-board-needs-competition.php
    _________________________

    Power Line has promoted criticism of the 2014 framework by scholars and intellectuals like Charles Kesler and Stanley Kurtz. We have also supplied criticism of our own. We welcome the improvements.

    But let’s not pop the champagne. Kurtz argues that the changes to the framework are largely cosmetic:

    “The College Board has removed some of the framework’s most egregiously biased formulations, yet the basic approach has not changed. Since the College Board has said that the revised framework will not require modifications to textbooks, there is reason to believe that we are looking at largely cosmetic changes.

    The textbooks are what students actually see. If the latest revisions won’t change the texts, they can’t mean much.”

    Textbooks aside, Kurtz finds that the framework remains badly flawed:

    “The first historical period (1491-1607), for example, is still shaped by a “three worlds meet” approach descended from the leftist National History Standards of 1994. In other words, the revised framework remains aggressively relativist, avoiding consideration of the deeper cultural sources of Western expansion and success. The emphasis instead is on mutual interaction and influence among European settlers, Native Americans, and African slaves.

    There was mutual influence among these three groups, of course, but the core story of how the Renaissance individualism, learning, innovation, science, and enterprise sparked a world-changing cultural transformation is evaded.

    The College board has added a a theme on American and National Identity, and it even uses the phrase “American Exceptionalism.” However, the nod seems token:

    “I’ve so far seen little new substance to fill out the meaning of that theme. There is still no treatment of John Winthrop’s City on a Hill speech, or of the broader point that the New England settlers saw their venture as a model for the world. New England town meetings are briefly referenced, yet without any explanation of how this led to a tradition of localism in America quite different from Europe.

    Merely referencing the words, “American exceptionalism” isn’t enough. To be meaningful, the concept has to be filled out with powerful examples.”

    The College Board remains bent on (1) gaining effective control of the nation’s high school curriculum and (2) using that control to push a leftist agenda. This is clear from its new AP European History framework which, in Kurtz’s words:

    “…is egregiously biased in all the ways that the 2014 AP U.S. history framework was. It downplays national identity, focuses overmuch on the evils of colonialism, is hostile to capitalism, downplays the excesses of the left and the problems of communism, and gives short shrift both to religion and to the sources of the classic Western liberalism.

    Only competition in AP testing can restore meaningful choice to the teaching of history.”

    As they say, read the whole thing, and the critical thinker will follow the links as well. Per Buckley, there is another point of view, and it certainly can't be denied that few have heard it above the din.

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  25. Reagan will still be shown to have had a bad effect on America in some ways and positive effects in others just like almost all of the presidents had.

    That's teaching your opinion, not “critical thinking.”

    Keep digging, professor.

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  26. That's usually because you don't understand what critical thinking involves. We teach students to question things and use inquiry to develop their answers. This is an active learning process. You cannot indoctrinate students this way. The conservatives do not like this because it means questioning things conservatives do not want questioned. Say for example authority. Liberalism involves questioning it. Conservatism depends on not questioning it.

    Again, read Stephen Brookfield and learn something. Better yet, watch this video. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y8umk4w8kB8

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  27. Your problem, Tom, is that you can only see the world in black and white. Your bias is rather evident by your choice of articles you love to link. You work from a system built on beliefs and reject facts. Unfortunately for you, the world works on facts. Critical thinking is something far more enduring that you want it to be. You should read Stephen Brookfield. You would learn something for a change instead of the indoctrination you link.

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  28. Jimmy Dick said…
    Not going to happen, Tom. The 2014 version was on the money.

    Uh huh.

    I am not an AP instructor, but that may change down the road. I really am not concerned if you hand me 2014 or 2015's versions. I'm going to teach students how historians work in my college courses. To do that I flipped the classroom and developed a strong information flow so that the entire course is one big critical thinking process.

    Uh huh.

    And when our English professor uses a phrase such as “critical thinking,” he must be at least dimly aware of how often those words have been perverted to mean uncritical negativism toward traditional values and uncritical acceptance of glittering catchwords of the Left, such as “diversity.”

    Read more at: http://www.nationalreview.com/article/416260/who-really-trashes-liberal-arts-thomas-sowell

    Reagan will still be shown to have had a bad effect on America in some ways and positive effects in others just like almost all of the presidents had.

    Uh huh!

    I never need to argue with you, Mr. Dick. You are the living proof.

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  29. Not going to happen, Tom. The 2014 version was on the money. The new version is basically a sop to the right who can't handle the reality of history and whined pretty hard about their need for American Exceptionalism to prop up their fictional view of the past.

    When you stop and make comparisons of the two versions, most people are looking at the content. That is not the important thing. What is important is the pedagogy involved. As Liana Heitin points out in this article, http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/curriculum/2015/08/fight_over_politics_in_ap_us_history_misses_the_point.html, while the fight over content continues to be fought, the best part of the AP test in the 2014 version remained. I pointed this out as well the day they made the announcement. Instead of forcing kids to memorize facts, the AP course was redesigned to teach them actual history.

    Note that Sam Wineburg is quoted in this article. That is a really strong indicator that the course will be about teaching students how to use historical information to develop their own interpretations. The instructors will be working more as guides with their students and hopefully are not standing in front of the class lecturing very long. This course emphasizes learning, not memorization. I think it's great.

    I am not an AP instructor, but that may change down the road. I really am not concerned if you hand me 2014 or 2015's versions. I'm going to teach students how historians work in my college courses. To do that I flipped the classroom and developed a strong information flow so that the entire course is one big critical thinking process.

    When it comes to teaching content, the AP instructors are still going to teach actual history. American Exceptionalism will be given a positive treatment in some classes, but in most of them it will not. The Revolution will still have egalitarianism as a result, the Civil War will still have been caused by slavery, the Gilded Age will still show why regulation of business is good, and so on. Depending on how far they get in the course, Reagan will still be shown to have had a bad effect on America in some ways and positive effects in others just like almost all of the presidents had.

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  30. The presumably liberal author of this piece admits that the 2014 version was biased to the left. Those who defended the 2014 version [and attacked the conservative opposition to it] clearly owe an apology.

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