Oklahoma Republicans Vote to Ban Advanced Placement US History
The education committee of the Oklahoma legislature has overwhelmingly voted to ban the teaching of advanced placement United States history in the state’s public schools, arguing that such courses emphasize “what is bad about America.”
The Tulsa World reports the Oklahoma House Common Education Committee voted 11-4 in favor of H.B. 1380, a measure introduced by Rep. Dan Fisher (R-Yukon) that would “direct the State Department of Education to identify and adopt a US History program and corresponding test to offer in lieu of the [current] AP US History course” being taught in the state.
All 11 votes in favor of the bill were cast by Republicans, while the four dissenters were Democrats.
Fisher is active in the Black Robe regiment, a political Christian fundamentalist group billing itself as “a resource and networking entity where church leaders and laypeople can network and educate themselves as to our biblical responsibility to stand up for our Lord and Savior [Jesus Christ] and to protect the freedoms and liberties granted to a moral people in the divinely inspired US Constitution.” He believes the AP history course material being taught to students places too much emphasis on “what is bad about America.”
One point of contention: Fisher said the AP history framework does not promote “American exceptionalism,” the theory that the United States is qualitatively different—and, many conservatives believe, superior—to other nations.
AP classes are nationally recognized courses developed by College Board, a New Jersey-based nonprofit organization, that allow high school students to earn college credits. They typically attract the best and brightest students, but are not required for graduation and schools are under no legal obligation to offer them.
John Williamson of College Board called Fisher’s objections “mythology and not true” and noted three learning objectives that supported the notion of “American exceptionalism.”
But many Oklahoma residents, who are among the most conservative in the nation, believe that the AP history framework is indoctrinating students with anti-American ideas. A search of that framework, however, found no mention of the words “genocide,” “imperialism,” “colonialism,” “torture” or, in a modern context, “racism” used to describe United States policies and actions.
Rep. Sally Kern (R-Oklahoma City) took Fisher’s criticism a step further, arguing that all “AP courses violate the legislation approved last year that repealed Common Core,” a federal initiative setting universal standards for English and math education for grades K-12.
Kern believes that “AP courses are similar to Common Core, in that they could be construed as an attempt to impose a national curriculum on American schools.” She has asked the state attorney general to rule on the issue.
In neighboring Colorado, students and teachers staged walkouts to protest efforts by conservative lawmakers to distort history by making AP US history courses “more patriotic” and effectively ban any material that could cause dissent.
Last July, ThinkProgress reported South Carolina Republicans also voiced objections to AP course material, asking College Board to omit “ideologically biased” lessons, including those dealing with biological evolution. Similar measures have gained traction in other states, including Georgia and North Carolina.
In Arizona, conservative state legislators in 2011 banned public school courses that encourage “ethnic solidarity,” including Mexican-American studies in a state where Mexicans comprise the largest single non-US national origin group. Under the Arizona law, the Tucson Unified School District banned, among other historically important works, William Shakespeare’s The Tempest.