Conservatives have thrown a hissy fit over American history curriculum, and this time it unfortunately worked. Because of these right-wing nuts, new AP standards will contain even less information about the plight of non-white people in America, skewing the truth and white-washing America in a more favorable light.
This debate began last year, when the College Board released AP Guidelines that conservatives deemed “unpatriotic”. After much criticism and pushback, new AP standards were released to include the founding fathers and include the term “American exceptionalism” – something the College Board didn’t think was necessary as it “previously assumed it wasn’t something it needed to spell out as part of what would be taught in an American history course,” according to Newsweek.
These new guidelines come after conservatives whined and moaned that there was too much emphasis on slavery and not enough about the founding fathers. As we all know, nothing frightens conservatives more than telling the stories and experiences of non-white people, especially when white people have done wrong. Conservatives also didn’t enjoy the fact that violence against Native Americans was included and didn’t think there was enough emphasis on military victories.
Conservatives were also disturbed by how “manifest destiny” was described in the AP standards, which was:
The idea of Manifest Destiny, which asserted U.S. power in the Western Hemisphere and supported U.S. expansion westward, was based on a belief in white racial superiority and a sense of American cultural superiority, and helped to shape the era’s political debates.
These AP guidelines have been under attack since October 2012, when the College Board released revised guidelines. Retired history teacher Larry Krieger was the first to ignite controversy. The Republican National Committee took note and campaigned against the guidelines. The RNC even wanted Congress to pull funding from the College Board because it “emphasizes negative aspects of our nation’s history while omitting or minimizing positive aspects.” Since then, conservatives have been full of complaints.
One reason conservatives might be so hellbent on challenging the AP standards is because the head of the College Board happens to be David Coleman, a major leader behind Common Core standards, which is opposed by many right-wingers.
Oklahoma Rep. Dan Fisher (R) introduced legislation “prohibiting the expenditure of funds on the Advanced Placement United States History course” and an Oklahoma legislative committee tried to ban AP history class altogether. Last year, current Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson said that most people who took AP history would be “ready to sign up for ISIS.” In Texas, the state has already changed its academic guidelines, and the next textbooks will have no mention of the Ku Klux Klan or Jim Crow laws.
Bending to the conservatives’ request to basically white-wash history more than it already has been is a disappointing move toward giving right-wingers what they want: WHITE history. By downplaying the experiences and struggles of non-white people, we are erasing some of the most important parts that have made America what it is today.
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Opinion columnist and former editor-in-chief of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.