The controversy in Oklahoma began after conservative critics of the courseÂ claimedÂ it creates terrible impression of America as an oppressive nation. The course is taken electively in high schools for college credit.
When conservative State Representative Dan Fisher (97 percent Conservative Index score on theÂ Oklahoma ConstitutionÂ newspaper’s ratings of the state legislature) introduced a bill to force changes in the AP history class standards as they are currently taught in Oklahoma’s public schools, he provoked a firestorm of opposition, The New American reported.
The NA quoted Peter Wood of the National Association of Scholars as saying in his description of the new course:
â€œOne group oppressing another is the dominant motif of AP U.S. history, a history of the oppressors always finding new ways to impose their desire for wealth and gain and the people being repressed always resisting.â€
National Public Radio reported that concerns about the alleged liberal slant of the standards have been expressed in other states as well, including Texas, Georgia, Nebraska, North Carolina and Tennessee.
NPR said that not only are America’s Founders “hardly even mentioned,” but neither are civil rights leaders Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King. The College Board responded that the guidelines are not intended as a “comprehensive curriculum,” NA stated.
Not surprisingly, Oklahoma Representative Fisher’s effort to thwart what claims is the one-sided presentation of American history led to predictable news reports, such as theÂ Tulsa WorldÂ story claiming that he wanted to “do away” with AP history.Â Fisher told theÂ NAÂ that he “never called for the abolition of AP history classes.”
Fisher said the content of the College Board’s revised course is “very skewed overall,” with “an agenda to emphasize all things wrong with America.” Certain events and individuals, he said,Â are emphasized to the “omission of other eventsâ€”designed to give a negative view” of the country.
“We do not object” to bad things in American history being taught, such as slavery and the Indian removals, FisherÂ asserted, explaining that he justÂ wants a balanced presentation of the nation’s history, to include a study of the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, and America’s War for Independence.
The Oklahoma State House of Representativesâ€™ Education Committee passed Fisherâ€™s bill that would defund the current AP U.S. History course framework and replace it with a curriculum deemed more pro-American. The bill requires the replacement class to cover a number of â€œfounding documents of the United States that contributed to the foundation or maintenance of the representative form of limited government, the free-market economic system and American exceptionalism.â€
â€œMost people when they finish that course, theyâ€™d be ready to go sign up for ISIS.â€
â€”Dr. Ben Carson, GOP presidential contender
Liberal critics of the bill harped onÂ the billâ€™s inclusion of speeches by Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush and omission of any documents from their Democratic contemporaries (though it did include Malcolm Xâ€™s â€œBallot or the Bulletâ€ speech and Lyndon Johnsonâ€™s â€œGreat Societyâ€ speech), Politico reported.
Amid the controversy, Fisher withdrew the bill for revision, telling a local newspaper that it was â€œpoorly worded.â€
Ted Dickson, a high school teacher who helped write the framework as co-chair of the College Boardâ€™s AP U.S. History Curriculum Development and Assessment Committee, defended that approach as crucial to developing studentsâ€™ critical thinking skills and a balanced view of American history, in an interview with Politico.
â€œDo you encourage citizenship and patriotism by only talking about whatâ€™s great about the U.S.?â€ he said. â€œOr do you encourage citizenship and patriotism by talking about not just the positives aspects of our history but also the parts that are negative and how we as a country strive to overcome those?â€
Steve Byas, author of the NA story, claims the history course revises history to suit the Progressive movement. â€œThe progressives largely rejected the concept of limited government, as it was structured by the Founders in theÂ U.S. Constitution, insisting that government should be freed from the shackles of the Constitution and allowed increased power so as to correct real or alleged â€˜evilsâ€™ of society,â€ he said.
â€œThis wasÂ notÂ the conservative view of the proper role of government, and 1920 Republican presidential candidate, Senator Warren Harding of Ohio, summed up the conservative opposition to the progressive philosophy: â€˜All human ills are not curable by legislation.â€™â€
GOP president contender Dr. Ben Carson went even further in a speech last fall when he contended that â€œmost people when they finish that course, theyâ€™d be ready to go sign up for ISIS,â€ the Iraq and Syria-based terrorist group.