Changes to AP US History Framework – Jane Robbins Interview

Portrait of David Coleman

David Coleman, lead writer of the Common Core ELA Standards has been very busy. Coleman went on to become the President of the College Board. The College Board develops SAT and AP exams (See the list of the AP courses). Students can gain college credit in high school by successfully passing AP exams so these classes are popular especially for our brightest students.  If you control the test, you control the curriculum. The impact of the new AP US History Framework and exam will be to undermine North Carolina Social Studies Standards. As a reminder, North Carolina adopted Common Core ELA and Math Standards. North Carolina has not adopted the C-3 Social Studies Framework nor should we. The changes to the AP US History Framework and exam are significant. Jane Robbins interview with Dick Morris provides some insight to the revisions.

Jane Robbins, attorney and senior fellow at the American Principles Project, discusses how the College Board has changed the AP US History exams to make curriculum cast United States history in a negative light.   CBS’ Dick Morris notes that the new curricula, among other things, downplays the discovery of America by Christopher Columbus in favor of discussing his mistreatment of Indians, and omits many accomplishments of the Founding Fathers

You can listen to the interview here

Glenn Beck interviewed Kevin Mercer with the Texas Board of Education to discuss the new AP History Exam

For an in depth-analysis of the changes see The New AP History: A Preliminary Report by Peter Wood, President of the National Association of Scholars. I will add this to our resources page.

Stanley Kurtz at National Review also covers the changes to AP US History. Kurtz appears in Dinesh D’Souza’s new film, America Imagine the World Without Her (the film is quite insightful and timely). Kurtz writes:

Leftist academics have finally figured out a way to circumvent state and local control over America’s schools and effectively impose progressive political indoctrination on the entire country. Once the AP U.S. History test demands blame-America-first answers, public and private schools alike will be forced to construct an American history curriculum that “teaches to the test.”

Up until the last few months, the College Board has provided high school teachers with only a brief topical outline for the AP U.S. History test. The brevity of this outline has permitted states, school districts, and teachers across the country to approach American history in their own way.  Now, however, the College Board has created a lengthy and detailed “framework” for their AP U.S. History test.  That framework effectively forces teachers to adopt an ideologically left-leaning approach to American history, heavily emphasizing our country’s failings while giving short shrift to our founding principles.

George Washington, a key figure in D’Souza’s film, barely makes an appearance in the new AP U.S. History Guidelines. Figures like Benjamin Franklin and James Madison are completely omitted. The Declaration of Independence is presented chiefly as an illustration of the colonists’ belief in their own superiority.  Slavery and the treatment of Native Americans are at center stage.  At times, the presentation of the New Deal and the Reagan era seems to come straight out of a Democratic Party press office. If you want your child to be admitted to a top quality college, you may soon feel pressure to parrot this line.

While the new AP U.S. History Standards clearly lean leftwards, they are not quite as egregiously ideological as a full-on college course taught by the likes of the leftist critics D’Souza interviews for his film. Yet the difference is surprisingly small. The College Board is pushing U.S. history as far to the left as it can get away with at the high school level.  In doing so, the Board is creating a kind of feeder system that perfectly primes students for the more openly ideological training they’ll be getting at college.

Jane Robbins and Larry Krieger, the first critics to protest this change, write about it here and here. Trevor Packer, a vice-president at the College Board, responds to Robbins and Krieger here, while they reply to Packer here. Since that initial dustup, Peter Wood, President of the National Association of Scholars, has weighed in with further background on, and criticism of, of the College Board’s ill-advised move here.

This attempt to nationalize a leftist American history curriculum by way of the College Board has been in the works for years. The Board made its move, however, shortly after selecting David Coleman, architect of the Common Core, as its new president.  I and many others have been concerned that a de facto federalizing of the K-12 curriculum through the Common Core would create an opening for those seeking to nationalize leftist indoctrination in our schools. Coleman’s role in formally authorizing and supervising the AP U.S. History changes only heightens these concerns. Coleman hasn’t fully revealed his plans for linking up the Common Core and the College Board’s testing regime. At this point, however, Coleman has lost the benefit of the doubt.

If the new AP U.S. History framework is allowed to take root unopposed, we can expect analogous changes in other AP tests. The College Board could use its AP tests to effectively federalize nearly the whole of America’s high school curriculum, with all of it “aligned” to the Common Core. This, of course, would be a back-door way around the Constitution, which by withholding power over education from the federal government reserves control of it to the states.

What can be done to stop these changes? Vocal protest at the state and local levels is needed. State legislatures may have to step in to prevent the effective seizure of their curricula by the College Board. Efforts to break the College Board’s monopoly on AP tests may also be in order. Is a market opening up for an alternative set of AP tests?

Dinesh D’Souza’s movie discusses Howard Zinn and his popular book, A People’s History of the United States 1492 to Present. While I’m familiar with Howard Zinn, I have not read his book but I have put it on my reading list. Does you child’s school use this book? I learned this book is being used in a large private high school which surprised me. Which brings me to the Textbook Commission, the work this Commission does is important hopefully, we can provide input. I do not know if this group is subject to open records laws, I hope they are transparent. As we learn more information, we will share it with you.

Related:Update on AP U.S. History from Education News

While the focus of this site is on Common Core, the Advanced Placement Program is important especially since controlling the tests controls curricula so I thought it was worth sharing with our readers. Many educators who provide AP instruction also teach other classes so it is likely they would use some of the same material and textbooks in non-AP classes. Lastly, many ELA informational text assignments are on historical subjects. Some of the assignments have been controversial and open the door to indoctrination.

Updated: see comments from Lindalyn Kakadelis  Controversial “NEW” Advance Placement U.S. History Standards

The College Board is responsible for Advanced Placement courses in high schools (public and private) across the country. These courses are designed for the best and brightest students. High school students receive college course credit if they obtain an acceptable score on the AP exam in a particular subject.  The College Board’s Advanced Placement U.S. History course for the 2014-15 school year consists of a new, redesigned, 98-page, detailed  Framework document instead of the previous five-page topical outline used by teachers.

and her recommendations for taking action NOW!

Teachers, parents, and concern citizens should contact their local Boards of Education, and particularly our NC State Board of Education, to express their views. According to Robbins’ interview with Dick Morris, state boards of education could ask the College Board to delay implementation and use the previous standards and exams for another year.  This would give time for the public to become aware of these changes, and request revisions.



This article was posted in Blog, News, Video by NC Citizen on July 22, 2014 at 11:30 am.

Comments (1)

  • I have been trying to figure out why there is a common core curriculum? World domination by the educated few? What future for people, Americans, does it produce? Government controlled lives all in the name of power? It is mind boggling. In the meantime whether I know why or not I have to do all I can to communicate the destructiveness of common core to as many people as possible. This is very hard to do since so many are too busy to be concerned. I enjoyed We Will Not Conform at the theatre last week. I hope it runs again.

    Donna Varesi
    Donna Varesi Jul 30, 2014 at 13:16

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