Very few things in this world can rile a right-winger like suggesting the United States is not perfect. That is what’s at the heart of the recent AP history controversy — a controversy that’s now spread to New Jersey, where Republican lawmaker Joe Kyrillos called the course “biased” and “negative” in a new resolution on Thursday.
Kyrillos’ resolution also calls on the College Board to change the curriculum, which makes him just the latest in a long line of Republicans to get their feathers ruffled by the idea the United States’ history doesn’t speak to the “shining city on a hill” myth the right loves so much.
Sen. Joe Kyrillos’ guide to A(merican) P(atriotic) history
State Senator Joe Kyrillos introduced the non-biding resolution on Thursday; in his resolution, he claimed the AP History program reflected a “seemingly biased view” of U.S. history, and that it “overemphasiz[ed]” the negative parts of our history while “omitting and minimizing many of the positive aspects.”
This should be read as a complaint that the AP program isn’t whitewashing — literally and metaphorically — our history enough.
His resolution also claimed that the AP course doesn’t cover key aspects of our history, omitting the Founding Fathers, the Declaration of Independence, and the influence of religion on the country.
While speaking to The Auditor, Kyrillos said that it “strikes me that there is an inordinate emphasis on political correctness and so-called balance that is designing potential curricula and guidelines,” and that “the AP test doesn’t properly portray our history, the beginnings of our country, its values and its unique role in the world, past and present.”
The College Board caves?
The backlash against the mere idea that the United States doesn’t have a perfect history has spun into a full-fledged AstroTurf movement on the right.
The College Board introduced the new course framework in 2012, and since then, the Republican National Committee (RNC) has denounced it, and legislatures in Oklahoma, Georgia, and Colorado have all demanded changes or instituted bans.
The RNC in particular has leveled sharp criticism, calling the exam, the course framework, and the College Board “radically revisionist,” and adding that their version of American history “emphasizes negative aspects of our nation’s history while omitting or minimizing positive aspects.”
Two conservative groups, Concerned Women for America and American Principals in Action, sent an open letter to the College Board reading in part:
Instead of striving to build a ‘City upon a Hill,’ as generations of students have been taught, the colonists are portrayed as bigots who developed ‘a rigid racial hierarchy’ that was in turn derived from ‘a strong belief in British racial and cultural superiority. The new Framework continues its theme of oppression and conflict by reinterpreting Manifest Destiny from a belief that America had a mission to spread democracy and new technologies across the continent to something that ‘was built on a belief in white racial superiority and a sense of American cultural superiority.’
This sort of condemnation was so common it was a shock when the Tennessee State Board of Ed didn’t attack the course framework.
The College Board is planning to issue a new version of the AP United States History framework this summer, however. The news comes from the College Board’s senior vice president for AP, Trevor Packer.
Writing in an April letter to the Wall Street Journal, Packer said that, “This summer, the College Board will release a new edition of the course framework which will clarify and encourage a balanced approach to the teaching of American history, while remaining faithful to the requirements that colleges and universities set for academic credit.”
Featured image via kyrillos.senatenj.com