Press "Enter" to skip to content

AP US History is not “American” enough

Oklahoma House Education Committee votes to change and potentially ban AP US History test

A bill was approved by an education committee in Oklahoma earlier this week that could potentially ban the AP US History test in that area or change its content, which hurts high schoolers.

Most UMBC students are aware of Advanced Placement tests many students take during high school. They can give students college credit, with a score of at least 4 out of 5, to fulfill general education courses, and the classes to prepare students for the exams are generally vigorous and informative.

However, the Oklahoma House Education Committee is currently working to ban the AP US History test or to change its content because its current content appears to put the United States in a negative light. This committee would rather risk the academic future of some high school students than accept a new framework that they have misunderstood.

“In essence, we have a new emphasis on what is bad about America,” said Dan Fisher, a Republican state representative of Oklahoma and sponsor of the bill. “The new framework trades… America’s founding principles of constitutional government in favor of robust analyses of gender and racial oppression, class ethnicity and the lives of marginalized people, where the emphasis… is of America as a nation of oppressor and exploiters.”

Basically, Fisher and the supporting committee see the new framework of the AP US History exam as an “anti-American” depiction of history that excludes key figures and events. Opposers of the new AP framework note that figures such as Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin and Martin Luther King, Jr. are not present in the course.

The authors of the new framework addressed the protests as a result of misunderstandings. They explained that the absence of key figures, such as King and Jefferson, by stating that they did not find it completely necessary to identify these historical figures because any history course “would of course include King as well as other major figures,” and noted that these names also were absent in the former framework.

The authors added that the revised framework from the College Board is not a complete course curriculum. It was purposefully left open so that local educators could fill in gaps they deem appropriate, important and satisfying “their state mandates” for course content.

The lack of key figures in the framework does not mean there is an absence of them in the course or in the exam. It is simply a revised framework where the authors looked to create new discussions and present more views of American history.

What is worse and poses a larger threat is that, while the bill was proposed in Oklahoma, other states have held major protests against the new framework as well, such as Colorado, South Carolina, Texas and Tennessee.

If these states succeed in removing the framework or banning the test, they will restrict the educational opportunities presently afforded to their constituent students, while setting a precedent for further legislation regulating the tests.

Thanks to even this bill’s proposal, there is a chance the ban will catch on even more. Then, the worry becomes that groups will begin working to ban more AP tests, like Biology, Literature or World History.

The AP tests are great to keep students motivated to earn college credit and to introduce them to vigorous courses in high school. This bill could affect future college students, and the future of the AP program.