Tuesday, February 17, 2015

We Must #SaveAP From our Politicians

I was there….I sat through the questions and debate about AP US History (APUSH). When I wasn’t shaking my head in disgust or swallowing my tongue to keep from laughing in disbelief, I wanted to throw up a little in my mouth. The same group that gave us the CCSS repeal is flexing its muscles again, and AP programs are their new target.

HB1380 is one of two bills, the first to be heard in Committee. Interestingly enough, I saw the author of the Senate bill, Senator Brecheen, sitting in the hearing, taking notes. I’m sure we will hear his arguments have been informed by this meeting.

Rep. Fisher brought in a real expert…on Skype! Larry Krieger is a former APUSH teacher, author of several books for kids taking APUSH. He has become a celebrity, feeding off the Tea-Party rage that our world is not sufficiently convinced of American exceptionality. His books are still on sale at Barnes and Noble. And he’s the subject of this article. They got themselves a live one!!

He told us that the committee that wrote new standards was ‘not accountable’ to anyone….
Fisher (?) my notes are sketchy said out loud that APUSH now has omitted exceptionalism and we are on the shifting sands of revision.

The term ‘nationalized curriculum’ brought up all the fears about CCSS. We must save our children from that. Oklahoma for Oklahomans...unless you need 'expert' witnesses...then it's perfectly ok to go across state borders.

They all liked the old APUSH standards just fine. If that nasty David Coleman hadn’t stepped into his new job at College Board and written those nasty standards, there would be no quarrel. Oh, Mr. Coleman wasn’t even at College Board when they were written? Oh, and he had nothing to do with them? Well, College Board-David Coleman-CCSS!! Let’s just say it louder.
Someone said out loud, ‘We don’t want AP teaching our kids…a skewed agenda.’ Read into this remark, ‘We want to teach them OUR skewed agenda.’

Someone intoned that AP students will be our leaders, and we can’t have them learning that the US isn’t exceptional.

One humorous exchange was about Rosa Parks. She is not specifically mentioned in the new standards. Oh, the could College Board do that? When asked where she was listed in the old standards, Rep. Fisher was unable to tell us and tried to change the subject…But when we have an agenda to fulfill, we can’t let pesky details get in the way.

We were told that we need to be teaching history that made this country great. We need to teach the OK history standards…which have probably already been scorched to the bone with our politicians’ agenda.

The new APUSH course turns America into a really horrible place. Just ask these politicians who never took the class. They know!

“We didn’t vote on the AP curriculum,” said someone. Um, no. AP is a college level course. I don’t think the Legislature has begun interfering with the content of college classes…yet. May be a future target. Be aware.
During a presentation by John Williamson, a representative of College Board, Mr. Kreiger kept interrupting him, to spew his own prejudices. The College Board folks were treated with contempt and disdain. I was so embarrassed. Mr. Williamson tried to make the point that APUSH is a college-bearing credit course…

AP and College Board were painted as a private, unelected group changing standards at will…for what purpose I never heard.

The intent is clear…no money to AP. I assume that means no professional development opportunities for teachers. I never taught an AP class, but I attended a workshop and used ideas from that workshop in my classes. ALSO, APUSH (and presumably all AP classes in the future) MUST comply with OK Standards, even though they are college level course. No matter.
They’re only trying to help “give students an understanding of what makes America great.” Must not be cultivating critical, analytical thinkers.

AP is “censoring all the good and lifting up all the bad in this country.” ALL…An AP English teacher might think about a lesson on hyperbole…

Mr. Williamson was grilled about the committee who wrote the hated standards…no, there were no Oklahoma teachers on this particular committee. Yes, Oklahoma teachers are included in other committees.  He read from the work of the committee to show American exceptionalism was alive and well, but Rep Kern said she would turn this into ‘he said-she said.’ She went to a workshop (Oh, how I wanted to jump up and ask, ‘what workshop? When? Hosted by whom? With what agenda?) and with her own eyes read hundreds of pages with guidelines. With her own eyes!

This is when Mr. Kreiger interrupted Mr. Williamson, asking his own questions. One witness questioning another. The proceedings could have become a free-for-all at this point.  He was finally shut up. Maybe I should have jumped up and asked my questions of Rep. Kern.

Rep. Fisher found an anti-APUSH, APUSH teacher. Didn’t get her name, but I kept wondering why in the world a teacher would work to subvert her own program…anyone? Anyone? Further update to update the update. The teacher who testified is Sandy Hodges, Wagoner County Assessor, identified in this article, as a former AP US History professor. I'm confused. Is she a PhD in history who used to teach APUSH? Is she a university professor who taught US History? There is no such critter as APUSH Professor. You can see her agenda is anti-CCSS. Hopefully the third time is the charm...I really think I have it right now. From the Resolution Ms. Hodges presented: "RESOLVED, That the Republican State Committee requests that the State Legislature, Oklahoma educators, and parents request that the 2014-2015 AP U.S. History course work and exams NOT be implemented until the traditional, well-established AP U.S. History guidelines and sample examinations are made available to educators, state and local officials, and the public, as has been done in the past; "

Representatives went back to that pesky APUSH committee who wrote the new work….did it have an ideological balance? They really asked that!! Ideological balance!! Mr. Williamson repeated the make-up of the committee – a balance of college professors and APUSH teachers; he left unsaid the fact that College Board does not have an ideological horse in this race, unlike some others. I was grateful he let that question die a quiet death.

In the debate, Ed Cannady put it on the line – a vote for this mess (my word) is a vote against local control…the right of a local school board to decide which AP classes to include in the curriculum. He said he would be watching and glad such a vote would be on the record.

Fisher used his debate time to give us a sermon…students would be given a severely-disadvantaged revision of American history with this course…He said other states have questioned APUSH – Texas, Tennessee, South Carolina, North Carolina, and *gasp* even California. I think I may have laughed.

So. Local control when we want. Trusting parents to make decisions for their students when we want. College credit when we want.

These politicians seem to think they’ll write their own APUSH-like course, vet it, write an APUSH-like exam, vet it, and talk universities into giving credit. Or they simply want their was so badly they don’t care what happens to our students who can’t afford tuition for classes they could earn credit for with hard work. Or kids who need the AP classes on their transcript to look attractive for tough colleges, or for scholarship applications. This is petulant legislators getting their way no matter who they hurt. And they’re hurting our kids.

My head hurt, my heart hurt. The vote was 11-4, straight party vote. We just watched the dumbing down of Oklahoma.

Since I needed time away from this toxic mess, others have written fiercely about this meeting and decision. Tulsa World analyzed the meeting here. And we have made the national news, yet again.
If you love me, sign this petition, written by a young AP student from Tulsa. A friend tells me he is bright and articulate...just the kind of leader we need. Even if you don’t love me, please sign.

1 comment:

  1. Sign the petition, _and_ write/call/visit your representative.