Saturday, October 4, 2014

NPR Tackles the Advanced Placement Controversy in Colorado

Over the last few weeks we have done a couple of posts on the controversy surrounding new guidelines and changes to the Advanced Placement history curriculum.  You can read our coverage of AHA President James Grossman's post here and a post on the protests over the curriculum by students in Colorado here.  At some point, when time allows, and if this is still a live story, I want to read the new AP guidelines and weigh in on the conversation.  

Yesterday National Public Radio tackled the AP controversy, with particular focus on the kids in Colorado who are protesting.  You can listen here, but in the meantime here is a small taste:

The revamped framework aims to de-emphasize rote memorization and instead develop critical thinking skills. But some conservatives say there's an anti-American bias.

Larry Krieger, a retired New Jersey high school teacher who is leading a national fight against the new framework, testified via video conference before Colorado's state board of education. He says the new materials don't mention events like D-Day or key historical characters. "The founders are not discussed," he says. "Ben Franklin: not there. James Madison: not there."

But that doesn't mean teachers will leave out D-Day or the nation's founders, says Fred Anderson, a history professor at the University of Colorado who helped write the new framework.

"These are usually the very best teachers in a school. You don't have to tell them to talk about Wilson and Madison, and Franklin and Washington at the Constitutional Convention — they do that," he says. "They would find it incredibly condescending to be directed at that level, so the absence of mention is not in any sense an exclusion — and it's a misconception, I think, about the framework that that's the case."

In Jefferson County, after two weeks of protest, the original language about patriotism was dropped. On Thursday night, the school board stripped of the most controversial language and then passed the resolution, which still creates a committee to review course materials.

Meanwhile, the College Board, which administers the AP test, says that if a school or district censors essential concepts from an AP course, that course can no longer bear the "Advanced Placement" designation.

I think this story deserves a lot of coverage here at The Way of Improvement Leads Home, but I just don't have time to do it--at least not yet.  So at this point I will just report until I get a chance to read the new guidelines and get up to speed. Stay tuned.