Education Week - March 4, 2015 - (Page 6)

Rewrite of Framework For AP U.S. History Raises More Hackles Policymakers push back in four states By Liana Heitin Concerns about an overhaul to the Advanced Placement U.S. History curriculum framework have been spreading through a growing number of states over the last few months, with critics saying it emphasizes negative aspects of the nation's history and downplays "American exceptionalism." Policymakers in Colorado, Georgia, Oklahoma, and Texas have pushed back on the new framework, which outlines the concepts and skills students need for a college-level history course. The Republican National Committee also condemned the guidelines last summer, calling them "radically revisionist." In response, the College Board, the nonprofit New York City-based organization that administers the Advanced Placement program, says that the framework was written by history educators and historians, and that ap teachers widely support it. The group also emphasizes that it's only a framework-not a detailed curriculum- and that teachers should populate the course with more specific content. Ap courses and exams are voluntary for both schools and students and are considered as rigorous as college-level courses. Many universities will award college credit to incoming students who scored at the highest levels on ap exams. The critics of the framework have tended to be right-leaning legislators and state board of education members who also oppose the Common Core State Standards, the set of expectations for student learning that are now being implemented in 43 states and the District of Columbia. The ap framework and the common core are not expressly connected, but the College Board has said that the history framework "dovetails" with the common standards for English/ language arts. College Board President David Coleman, who took over the job in October 2012, was previously a lead writer for the common standards. However, there's little evidence so far that the criticism of the ap U.S. History framework will result in significant changes. About 500,000 students are expected take the history test aligned to the updated framework this spring, and supporters of ap have come out in full force against policies proposing to derail the course. 'Not a Curriculum' The College Board released the revised framework for ap U.S. History in 2012. That framework was developed over about five years; it was written by a core group of nine history professors and high school teachers, with input from other educators. Ap teachers began using the new framework at the beginning of the 2014-15 school year. The new framework isn't just a series of tweaks to the old one-in fact, it's a re-envisioned document. The old framework was just five pages long; the new one is close to 80 pages. While the previous framework was essentially a list of topics broken into 28 time periods, the new framework describes key concepts within nine time periods, and is focused more on analysis than memorization. As the framework notes, it "is not a curriculum and thus does not consist of a list of the historical content REVISITING 'MANIFEST DESTINY' Some critics of the new framework for teaching AP U.S. History point to its treatment of Manifest Destiny as evidence of a negative slant on the nation's history. The revised version notes that the idea "was built on a belief in white racial superiority and a sense of American cultural superiority." Previous Framework on Manifest Destiny: Territorial Expansion and Manifest Destiny * Forced removal of American Indians to the trans-Mississippi West Marchers in Golden, Colo., top, protest a proposal last fall from the Jefferson County school board to ensure that AP U.S. history courses emphasize patriotism and downplay civil unrest. Members of the public, below, attend a school board hearing on the issue. teachers will feel compelled to teach only what's on the list, and critics on every side will battle against and critique the list," she said. "We want to leave teachers some latitude to decide what parts of specific content they will use to knit together a larger story." In addition, she noted that the previous five-page framework didn't include specific historical references either-including to Dr. King. (names, events, dates, etc.) that teachers will choose for classroom focus." (The College Board declined Education Week's requests for comments for this article. A spokeswoman did, however, send links to public documents regarding the group's stance on the history framework.) Some critics have pointed to the lack of specific content as a problem with the framework. "There are serious omissions of very important historical characters that have played very important parts in American history," said William Ligon, a Republican state senator in Georgia. "Dr. [Martin Luther] King [Jr.] is omitted from the framework." Emma Jones Lapsansky-Werner, a professor emeritus of history at Haverford College in Haverford, Pa., who served on the committee that wrote the framework, explained that it's understood teachers will include Dr. King in a discussion of the 1950s and 60s. "The fear is that if we make a list, 6 | EDUCATION WEEK | March 4, 2015 | Too Negative? Some of the earliest criticism of the new framework can be traced to retired ap U.S. History teacher Larry S. Krieger, who published several articles last spring attacking the guidelines. A piece he co-wrote last March for the Heartland Institute, a conservative think tank in Chicago, states that the framework "inculcates a consistently negative view of the nation's past." Mr. Krieger points to the framework's treatment of Manifest Destiny as evidence of that negative slant: "Instead of a belief that America has a mission to spread democracy and new technologies across the continent," he writes, "the framework teaches the nation 'was built on a belief in white racial superiority and a sense of American cultural superiority.' " (Mr. Krieger declined to be interviewed for this article.) In August 2014, the Republican National Committee adopted a resolution stating that the framework * Western migration and cultural interactions * Territorial acquisitions * Early U.S. imperialism: the Mexican War New Framework on Manifest Destiny: As the nation expanded and its population grew, regional tensions, especially over slavery, led to a civil war-the course and aftermath of which transformed American society. Key Concept 5.1: The United States became more connected with the world as it pursued an expansionist foreign policy in the Western Hemisphere and emerged as the destination for many migrants from other countries. I. Enthusiasm for U.S. territorial expansion, fueled by economic and national security interests and supported by claims of U.S. racial and cultural superiority, resulted in war, the opening of new markets, acquisition of new territory, and increased ideological conflicts. A. The idea of the Manifest Destiny, which asserted U.S. power in the Western Hemisphere and supported U.S. expansion westward, was built on a belief in white racial superiority and a sense of American cultural superiority, and helped to shape the era's political debates. SOURCE: College Board Photos by Brennan Linsley/AP-File

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Education Week - March 4, 2015

Study: Twitter Fanned Debate On Standards
Police Body Cameras Surfacing in Schools
Tracing Hillary Clinton’s K-12 Record
Boys-Only Programs Raise Legal Concerns
DIGITAL DIRECTIONS: Simulation Game on Slave Experience Provokes Questions
Education Week - March 4, 2015
News in Brief
Report Roundup
Rewrite of Framework for AP U.S. History Raises More Hackles
Blogs of the Week
Chicago’s Emanuel Forced Into Runoff
N.Y. Study Finds More Top Students Hired as Teachers
Deeper Look at Suspension Data Pinpoints Big Disparities
House Wrestles With Bill to Rewrite No Child Left Behind Act
Partisan Winds Loom For Some GOP Governors
Blogs of the Week
State of the States
PAUL T. HILL & ASHLEY JOCHIM: Beyond Chartering
MATTHEW MUENCH: Making ‘Innovation’ Live Up to Its Hype
JOHN MANNES: The Fault in Our School Boards
TopSchoolJobs Recruitment Marketplace
DAVID FINLEY: Teacher Tenure: An Innocent Victim of Vergara v. California

Education Week - March 4, 2015