APUSH It Out!

by Ashley Ware, age 16
APUSH It Out!

“The changes made from the 2014 to the 2015 AP US History Curriculum Guide by the College Board (as suggested by the Republican National Committee) are designed to diminish the abhorrent actions of the European settlers in the 1600’s.”

The changes made from the 2014 to the 2015 AP US History Curriculum Guide by the College Board (as suggested by the Republican National Committee) are designed to diminish the abhorrent actions of the European settlers in the 1600’s. The Republican National Committee, who had never commented on the curriculum before, claimed that the 2014 curriculum standard was, “presenting a biased and inaccurate view of many important events in American history.” Upon examining the wording in the 2014 APUSH Curriculum Standards in contrast with the 2015 curriculum, one change is immediately made clear: the 2014 standards are more descriptive and precise (as it should be), whereas the 2015’s are a rough overview that glide over important details.

The 2015 curriculum demonstrates a whitewashing of historic events and, in turn, lessening the natives ‘slaughter.  It states, “Interracial interaction in the colonial… years spurred evolving religious, cultural and racial justifications for subjugation.” When one reads this sentence, it is clear that the phrase “interracial interaction” is vague, and left open to interpretation, compared to, “white superiority,” (2014 standard). This was perceived to be too loaded of a term by the RNC, and too heavily race-centric. Heaven forbid there be an accurate account of the detestable Europeans’ acts. The words, “intensity and destructiveness” (2014 standard) are replaced with, “cultural and demographic changes.” (2015 standard). Again, revealing the biggest change: softened vocabulary and the lackluster retelling of the events, leaving them unrecognizable.

Republican Party members came out to the media in an attempt to legitimize the change in curriculum. Rebecca Klein, a Huffington Post Journalist cites Ben Carson, (“Fox News’ Ben Carson Thinks New AP U.S. History Course Will Make Students Join ISIS, as it, “paints America in a bad light,”), a retired neurosurgeon and current Fox News commentator, who (ran for President under the Republican party in 2016) claimed that the 2014 standard curriculum provided for AP US History teachers all across America was giving, “an anti-American bias.” By focusing on the, “bad parts” of history, Ben Carson thinks the 2014 curriculum will turn teens against America. He states, “a whole section on slavery… and how evil we are… internment camps and how we slaughtered millions of Japanese with our bombs.” Carson is attempting to diminish these abhorrent acts (slavery, internment camps) and to, “stop this silliness crucifying ourselves.” It also states that, “he will likely run for president in 2016.” Carson, an African-American male, is down playing historical events for political gain. The average Fox News viewer is white and republican.  These statements originating from an African American candidate, absolving any white privilege “guilt” on this network and in turn vindicating the viewer’s’ beliefs is clearly a strategic play. He continues with, “only two paragraphs in there on George Washington… little or nothing about Martin Luther King,” hence solidifying further his votes by playing to their love of old white fore father George Washington, recognizing the equality of African Americans in the United States MLK, and diminishing the relevance of slavery. This is a double play, because by mentioning both, Carson is continuing to absolve white guilt because slavery was “a long time ago,” and African Americans have nothing to complain about now. This feeds into the Republican National Committee belief that the European settlers were being vilified and that the curriculum failed to provide enough emphasis on the more positive side of America’s history, thus painting the country in a bad light.

The Republican National Committee wished to soften the 2014 curriculum to comply with their narrative of diminishing the focus on racial strife in United States history. They believe that the 2014 curriculum was not the “true history of their country.”  They recommended that the APUSH committee postpone the 2014 curriculum to reconvene and make a new one: “The RNC recommends that the College Board delay the implementation of the new APUSH framework… and that during that time a committee be convened to draft an APUSH framework that is… consistent with state history standards.” The Republican National Committee claimed the APUSH curriculum did not meet state history standards and that it was inaccurate. It states, “the framework presents a biased and inaccurate view of many important events in American history”. This included slavery, the US involvement in WWII and the Cold War. These changes were implemented in the 2015 curriculum, which its wording leaves such ambiguity that if you knew nothing about history, you’d never learn that the Europeans Settlers were responsible for the acceleration of the discourse between the Native American tribes and slavery for their financial gain. Students would not have the opportunity to discern for themselves how the US became a world power and the cost to become one.

Diminishing the correct reporting of a nation’s’ repugnant actions has been put into effect by many groups and world leaders in the past. This is an old strategy to raise nationalism and alter the people’s perception.  These countries do not have the first amendment – freedom of speech. This act by the Republican National Committee and its puppets (Ben Carson), is abhorrent. The idea that a true historic APUSH curriculum would incite students to join ISIS is ignorance – lack of knowledge or information

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