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College Board Threatens to Drop Colorado School District from AP US History

College Board Threatens to Drop Colorado School District from AP US History

The College Board, which administers the Advanced Placement U.S. History (APUSH) course and exam, has not only come out in support of student protesters in Jefferson County, Colorado, but has threatened to drop the school district’s AP designation if the school board proceeds with a review of the APUSH framework.

As reprinted in Colorado Chalkbeat, the College Board released the following “statement on censorship of AP U.S. History”:

26 September 2014

The College Board’s Advanced Placement Program® supports the actions taken by students in Jefferson County, Colorado to protest a school board member’s request to censor aspects of the AP U.S. History course. The board member claims that some historical content in the course “encouraged or condoned civil disorder, social strife, or disregard for the law.”

These students recognize that the social order can – and sometimes must – be disrupted in the pursuit of liberty and justice. 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. And these events and ideas are essential within the study of a college-level, AP U.S. History course.

The College Board will always listen to principled concerns based on evidence – and in fact has announced a public-review process for the AP U.S. History course framework. But in light of current events, an important policy reminder is in order:

College faculty and AP teachers collaborate to develop, deliver, and evaluate AP courses and exams. Their partnership ensures that these courses align with the content and rigor of college-level learning, while still providing teachers with the flexibility to examine topics of local interest in greater depth.

To offer a course labeled “AP” or “Advanced Placement,” a school must agree to meet the expectations set for such courses by the more than 3,300 colleges and universities across the globe that use AP Exam scores for credit, placement, or consideration in the admission process.

As vital context for the courageous voices of the students in Colorado, the AP community, our member institutions and the American people can rest assured: If a school or district censors essential concepts from an Advanced Placement course, that course can no longer bear the “AP” designation.  

The College Board, under the direction of President David Coleman, the “architect” of the Common Core standards, has obviously signed onto the reported cause of students who claim to be protesting against the review of APUSH, though in a recent video produced by JeffCoTruth.org, students revealed their teachers told them they were upset about not getting the raises they believed they deserved.

In fact, evidence is mounting that the tabled proposal to review the APUSH framework may have been a convenient issue to engage students while teachers’ unions on national, state, and local levels worked together, as Colorado Education Association (CEA) President Kerrie Dallman discussed during an NEA convention in July. As Breitbart News reported, The Complete Colorado has received emails that reveal a teachers’ union representative was organizing the teacher “sickouts” that closed down some of the district’s high schools.

As the developer of the new APUSH framework that is supposedly presenting a more accurate view of America’s past, the College Board seems to have neglected some of the historical facts of the JeffCo situation.

Though school board member Julie Williams’ original proposal asked the question, “Are materials that may encourage or condone civil disorder, social strife, or disregard of the law done so within the context of the U.S. Constitution?” and some believed the question contained some inflammatory verbiage, the fact is the proposal was immediately amended by board member John Newkirk.

The final draft proposal, which was tabled and never voted on, states:

Board Committee for Curriculum Review (Draft Rev2b)

This committee shall be seated by the Board. Each director may name up to two members of the committee. The District’s Chief Academic Officer shall serve as advisor to the committee. The charge to the committee is to review curricular choices for accuracy and omissions, conformity to Jefferson County academic standards, and to inform the Board of materials that may reasonably be deemed to be objectionable. The committee shall regularly review texts and curricula according to priorities that it establishes, although the Board may, from time to time, add items for review. The committee shall report all comments (majority and minority) to the Board in writing as items are. The committee’s initial project will be a review of the AP U.S. History curriculum.

In announcing, however, that “if a school or district censors essential concepts from an Advanced Placement course, that course can no longer bear the ‘AP’ designation,” the College Board is taking an unprecedented and authoritarian politically activist stance in denying JeffCo its rights to review and control its district’s instruction as provided for local boards of education under the Colorado Constitution, Article IX, Section 15.  

Stanley Kurtz asserted Tuesday at National Review Online that, with this event and amid the continued controversy of the new APUSH framework, the call to end the College Board’s AP testing monopoly should now be heard loud and clear.

Kurtz writes:

The College Board’s AP testing monopoly has survived because of public trust. Implicitly, the College Board has promised to remain non-partisan and non-directive, thereby permitting states, school districts, and teachers with a wide range of educational perspectives to work comfortably within its system. On this presumption, state and federal governments have channeled tens of millions of dollars to the College Board in direct payments and testing fees. In effect, the College Board has become a government-subsidized educational monopoly. Now, however, with the College Board violating public trust by turning itself into a biased and controlling de facto national school board, this government-subsidized educational monopoly must end.

“The escalating battle between the College Board and the Jefferson County school board illustrates the impossibility of solving this problem so long as AP testing remains in the hands of a single company,” Kurtz added. “The Jefferson County school board has rightly refused to accept the flawed and overly directive APUSH framework imposed on it by an out-of-state company. The school board has both the right and an obligation to decide on its own curriculum.”

As The Gazette reports, Ken Witt, JeffCo Board of Education head, said the APUSH program could be eliminated if the review committee decides it is not appropriate for the district.

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