Behind the Headline: Changes in AP History Trigger a Culture Clash in Colorado

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Changes in AP History Trigger a Culture Clash in Colorado
10/6/14 | Washington Post

Behind the Headline
The Challenges of A.P. History: Are You Sure You Want College Credit?
9/11/2014 | Education Next blog

A front-page story in today’s Washington Post looks at the debate that has broken out in Colorado over the new Advanced Placement U.S. History curriculum.  The College Board has revised the curriculum so that it tells a more complicated, “warts and all” version of the history of the United States. In Jefferson County, Colorado (a large school district outside of Denver), the school board, which has a conservative majority, is pushing back against the new curriculum for not presenting more positive aspects of our nation’s history. Students are, in turn, pushing back against the school board.

Chester E. Finn, Jr. recently wrote about the new A.P. U.S. history curriculum and its roots in how introductory courses in U.S. history are taught in U.S. colleges and university. He explains

Securing any sort of postsecondary credit for academic work done in high school means that the College Board (and anyone else devising “early college” strategies) must produce courses that resemble those that the students would otherwise take in college. Which means the content of such courses will be driven primarily by what college professors presently teach in their own lecture halls and seminar rooms. Which in turn means that every philosophical, pedagogical, and political fad to overwhelm the faculties of today’s post-modern campuses will creep into the courses taught to sixteen- and seventeen-year-olds before they even matriculate.

Finn concludes, “the proper work of watchdogs and critics going forward is to press for proper history to be taught in the colleges themselves.”

-Education Next

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