Sunday, September 28, 2014

College Board Supports Student Protests in Colorado

Student protests
An AP history student screams her indignation at the school board's messing with the AP History curriculum

 It ought to come as no surprise that when a standard national curriculum with name cachet is tampered with, diluted there are bound to be consequences from the official body that governs its content and any changes. So it should have come as no surprise when the Denver Post reported yesterday (p. 3A) that the College Board (source of the SAT and its AP versions) supports the student protests in Jefferson Country (which have included thousands of students including from Columbine High School and Dakota Ridge H.S..).   As the Post report stated:

"The College Board's Advanced Placement program, which oversees the AP U.S. History course at the center of the Jefferson County protests, said in a statement Friday that it supports the teens and their actions.

'These students recognize that the social order can - and sometimes must - be disrupted in the pursuit of liberty and justice' the statement said.

'Civil disorder and social strife are at the patriotic heart of American history - from the Boston Tea Party to the American Revolution to the Civil Rights movement."

It also would have come as no surprise that the College Board stated firmly that "if a school or district 'censors essential concepts from an Advanced Placement course then that course can no longer bear the AP designation".

So one is left to wonder how the  JeffCo sorry excuse for a school board thought they could get away with this perfidy when other states (e.g. Texas) had no recourse other than to drop its revisionist history AP curriculum and go to an exclusively state-sponsored program instead. I mean this stuff is basic: you can't seek to have a program which pretends to be AP history but is actually cafeteria -style revisionist piffle that Larry Schweikart and his groupies might be proud of.  And yet even in yesterday's Post, on the Op-Ed page, one JeffCo school board numskull (John Newkirk) sought to defend the local school board's bastardized history curriculum.

Which makes one wonder what planet Newkirk is living on. Newkirk complained the JeffCo board was "widely criticized for leaving out parts of our underlying story, yet when board member suggested engaging the community - via a curriculum review committee- she and the board were widely criticized,"

As they should have been! Because the time for "engagement" of the community was before the proposal was submitted and accepted at a closed door (i.e. non-public) meeting. So, Newkirk actually writes out of both sides of his mouth, because if you're holding closed door meetings to get a curriculum fast-tracked and passed you are not engaging the community nor do you have any intention to do so. This is what both students and teachers perceived and why they took action.

What Newkirk actually advocates is discussing the curriculum after it's already approved, akin to closing the barn door after all the cows have escaped.  The worst balderdash of all from his op-ed piece was when he blathered:

"The reaction to a new board majority of non-union candidates has been loud and prolonged. This I fear is largely due to fear of the unknown and change in the status quo."

In fact it was largely due to what the Denver Post reported Friday (p. 8A) to the effect that controversy had swirled since a conservative board had been elected to run the 85,000 student district - and most people knew these conservos had their own agenda. It didn't take long for it to surface with the revisionist AP curriculum. The insistence by these board members that positive history be emphasized and civil disobedience de-emphasized, capped it - along with the insistence that students acknowledge respect for authority and appreciate the value of the free market (sic.) By then, everyone with a brain knew what was afoot and the protests ensued.

So, in many ways, one can blame the clueless Jefferson County voters for removing the trio of hard working board members and putting in the current clowns.  In this guise, the Neanderthals  attacking the students can cease and desist giving the middle finger  when  they pass them in their cars and shouting: "Where are the truant officers?"

The worst insult, as it ought to be for the students (as well as JeffCo teachers),  is the derelict claim by some nincompoops that the students are being exploited as "pawns"  by the teachers. One of these bozos even asked in a letter to the Post yesterday: "Have the students, one month into the semester, the ability or knowledge to critique curriculums?"

Yes, they do, if they have even an overview of how the content might be adjusted or changed. So when JeffCo Board VP Julie Williams'  intent to "promote the positive aspects of U.S. history" - broke in the newspapers (and I do believe students read them, if only online)  along with the reported objectives "to avoid teaching civil disorder and social strife" - the students knew what was afoot: vanilla, or sanitized U.S. history. They didn't have to review or know the entire curriculum to arrive at their conclusions.

The true fact, as voiced by one Jefferson County teacher (ibid.), is the students themselves "have taken this thing on and run with it". They have watched the news and read online info  - they aren't layabout dummies or zombies after all - and have expertly used social media including Facebook and Twitter, to connect with classmates and spread the word.  So, if the JeffCo nattering nabobs have a problem with the protests, they'd be more correct to blame social media and the internet than the teachers.


The Common Core does not include standards for history (though it probably should - more so than for algebra and geometry) so alignment to a national curriculum was not a factor. However, just as Common Core emphasizes a stronger focus on critical thinking, College Board authors note that the new AP U.S. history framework emphasizes analyzing and thinking skills using primary sources. For example, using the Warren Commission's own report but along with an understanding of physics, human anatomy to show it is false, e.g.

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