SBOE Ken Mercer on Beating Common Core AP US History in Texas

DALLAS, Texas--National Review commentator Stanley Kurtz put Texas "at the forefront of the resistance" in fighting the new Common Core aligned AP US History (APUSH). Now all eyes are on Texas to lead the way out of APUSH in a state that didn't even adopt the Common Core State Standards. Texas State Board of Education (SBOE) member Ken Mercer may just have the plan.

Breitbart News reported on Kurtz's plea in which he highlighted Mercer's intention to introduce a resolution to "rebuke and reject" the new APUSH at the board's Austin held meetings the week of July 14-18. However, protocol and timing aren't on Mercer's side. Breitbart Texas spoke with Mercer, who said he can and will open the door on APUSH anyway and he'll do that on Friday, July 18.

"This is new business and we're not allowed by process to introduce. That we will begin in September," he said, frustrated by the situation. He can announce the issue but since it's not on the agenda, he can't elaborate. 

Also, Mercer is hoping for a special legislative session to address the fact that Common Core will be unabashedly in Texas through APUSH. This will require a lot of public outcry.

In June 2014, Attorney General Greg Abbott rendered an opinion against the use of Common Core that reinforced the legislation that was supposed to eradicate it. Although Breitbart Texas has reported on incidences of Common Core popping up throughout the state, APUSH will be a frontal Fed Led Ed assault into Texas classrooms delivering the Common Core product and its exam.

APUSH is a serious marker for Texans but also by 2016 the SAT, the most predominant college entrance exam taken by the state's high school students, will also be aligned to the Common Core.

Interestingly, APUSH falls under the jurisdiction of the College Board in the Texas Education Code. The SBOE adopted Advanced Placement (AP) US History (TEKS, 19TAC113.53) as one of the three state standards for United States History in 1998. The others were the regular Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) (TEKS, 19TAC113.41) and International Baccalaureate (IB) (113.53).

Texas Education Agency (TEA) spokeswoman Debbie Ratcliffe told Breitbart Texas, "AP and IB explicitly reference the curriculum standards adopted by College Board and IB and authorize them to meet the US History requirement."

In the code, subchapter D, other Social Studies Courses, indicates that the content requirements "are prescribed in the College Board Publication Advanced Placement Course in United States History, published by The College Board."

However, when these standards were adopted, there was no Common Core or its architect-turned-appointed College Board president David Coleman. Coleman radically aligned the college prep stalwart into a framework devoid of American achievements, overflowing with negatively-painted history as pointed out by retired AP US History teacher Larry Krieger and American Principles Project senior fellow Jane Robbins in articles for Breitbart News.

Mercer told Breitbart Texas that this is not the first time something like this has happened with compromised educational content. He believes there is something that can be done to turn things around and not just in Texas, either -- the Gorton Resolution.

In January 1995, the US Senate overwhelmingly rejected proposed new and voluntary K-12 public school history standards in a vote of 99-1. At the time, senators agreed that the abundantly politically correct National History Standards Project presented all of Western civilization in an unflattering light.

US senator Slade Gorton (R-Washington) took on some progressively left history standards that came out of UCLA. In the dawning digital media age, these standards were designed to make history "come alive.'

A 2005 ideological incarnation of Diane Ravitch--former US Assistant Secretary of Education, one time primary writer for the 1988 California state adopted History/Social Sciences Framework, and author--wrote of her own involvement in the project. "I was able to persuade the Department of Education and the National Endowment for the Humanities to make a grant to the National Center for History in the Schools at UCLA to write voluntary national history standards. UCLA was chosen because it was home to Charlotte Crabtree, with whom I had worked closely in drafting the politically balanced and historically solid framework for teaching history in the schools of California, adopted by the State Board of Education in 1988 (and still in place)."

The problem was that these standards "sought to embrace non-white cultures, but some conservatives complained they belittled Western culture in the name of multiculturalism," the Spokesman-Review reported.

At the time, Gorton's biggest objection to the history standards was what was left out. "There were few references to George Washington," according to the article, which cited that in 31 course standards there were no mentions of the US Constitution, Paul Revere, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Edison and a slew of other significantly worthy American historical figures. There were also issues of leftist bias.

Fast forward to Krieger and Robbins who just pointed out that Coleman's Common Core APUSH omits almost every founder and historically relevant site.

The National History Standards Project was part of an outcomes-based learning push of Goals 2000, the congressional legislation passed to improve teaching and student performance nationwide under the Clinton administration. The goal was that by the year 2000, all children would reach a laundry list of milestones. Despite grants and early 21st Century classroom technological ventures, Goals 2000 ended with the re-upping of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) of 1965 or, as it's better known, No Child Left Behind (NCLB) under President George W. Bush.

Before the voluntary history standards were squashed, though, Ravitch co-authored an opinion piece pushing rebranding. She urged that those standards be revised and not scrapped, according to the Slate article.

For Mercer, time is critical. As Kurtz insisted, September might be too late. Mercer agreed and told Breitbart Texas that, by then, school will have started and APUSH classes begun.

"There are millions (of dollars) that have been spent on textbooks and curriculum," he said, which is why he'd like Texas to hit the brakes before the school year starts. He said, "I am worried about the costs of implementation, not just the implementation."

Mercer knows he can't fight this battle alone, which why he asked Texans to join him in Austin. He told Breitbart Texas, "For now, we need to make a strong statement in Austin and show up. It's what we must do right now."

Follow Merrill Hope, an original member of the Breitbart Texas team, on Twitter @OutOfTheBoxMom.


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