DALLAS, Texas — For decades, Advanced Placement (AP) has been a respected name in high-quality high school accelerated learning. Texas students represent a respectable 10 percent of the program’s market; however, this year, the AP US History (APUSH) has undergone a radical revamp that has come under fire from education experts because the new version will radically transform how US History is taught.
National Review’s Stanley Kurtz warned in the Dallas Morning News that the new APUSH will “replace the teaching of traditional American history in our high schools with a new, centrally controlled and sharply left-leaning curriculum.”
No doubt, it was all the more surprising that the progressive re-do was so readily embraced by the Texas-based Military Child Education Coalition on the same week that the State Board of Education (SBOE) hears a resolution from member Ken Mercer to request that APUSH is rewritten “in a transparent manner to accurately reflect US history without a political bias… and to respect the sovereignty of Texas over its education curriculum.” APUSH is owned by the College Board, which also administers the PSAT, SAT and ACT college entrance exams.
There’s another big problem with APUSH. It contradicts the state’s public education standards, the Texas Essential Knowledge & Skills (TEKS).
Yet, the non-profit’s president and CEO Mary Keller, who advocates for K-12 education of “military-connected children,” gave APUSH a glowing thumbs up. Also in the Dallas Morning News, she wrote quite the love letter to the College Board, not praising it as an educational tour de force but for product portability and “equity” of credits crossing over state lines and schools plus the “continuity of learning progress,” for military families who move more frequently than the average American.
So staunch in her conviction for APUSH, Keller urged the SBOE “to support APUSH for the over 200,000 military and veteran-connected children in our Texas classrooms.”
The SBOE is far from sold on the redesign’s virtues; those changes don’t only conflict with the TEKS, they violate the Texas Education Code.
In an article for Breitbart Texas, Jane Robbins and retired AP teacher Larry Krieger point out a deeper problem than just revisionism. The redesigned APUSH guts vast amounts of US History. One of the areas removed was US military history.
They wrote, “the Alamo, the Army of the Potomac, the Rough Riders, the doughboys, the GI’s, and the servicemen and women who fought in Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan” are all gone from the course’s framework. Ironically, the very military that Military Children Education Coalition advocates for is now officially AWOL in APUSH.
“Veterans and their families will be dismayed to discover that Washington did not cross the Delaware, William Travis did not defend the Alamo,and the GI’s did not liberate Europe from Nazi tyranny. Instead, students will learn that the American Expeditionary Force in World War I ‘played a relativelylimited role in the war’ and that the ‘atomic bomb raised questions about American values.’ The Framework completely omits the GI Bill, the Berlin Airlift,and the Cuban Missile Crisis,” according to the Breitbart Texas article.
On the surface it makes no sense why a military-affiliated advocacy group would support these kinds of educational content changes but what Keller neglected to mention in the Dallas Morning News was her longstanding relationship with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the driving force behind the controversial Common Core State Standards (CCSS).
According to the Gates Foundation, the Military Children Education Coalition has been the recipient of numerous grants between 2008-13 and each one came with specific marching orders.
Military Children Education Coalition’s 2008 grant from the Gates Foundation was in the amount of $269,998 for the Military Children Education Coalition and its goal was “to createan alliance with Achieve and other national partners to support ADP Common Core Math Standards, identify middle school supporting content critical for mobile students, and create training modules accessible to students and educators.”
Achieve has been another major player in the Common Core, created by Student Achievement Partners whose founders are Common Core lead writers Jason Zimba, Susan Pimentel and David Coleman, the president of the College Board. Coleman is also known as the architect of the Common Core.
Besides administering college entrance exams, the College Board has been aligning PSAT, SAT and ACT to the Common Core State Standards. He is also at the center of the APUSH debate because it is under his College Board that the course’s framework took a hard revisionist turn. It because of Coleman that APUSH and Common Core share so much DNA.
The 2008 Gates grant wasn’t the only time Keller took the foundation’s money to push Common Core into military communities. In 2011, the Military Children Education Coalition was granted $149,965 “to develop and execute an advocacy campaign in support of the implementation of Common Core State Standards (CCSS) in multiple states by leveraging the voices and actions of its network of military families and uniform leadership.”
Then in 2013, the Military Children Education Coalition was granted $563,611 by the Gates Foundation to “support implementation of the Common Core State Standards by engaging military leaders and families.”
Also last year, the Military Children Education Coalition officially tied the knot with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, teaming up on projects to ensure that “America’s service members and post 9/11 veterans are college and career ready,” according to PRNewswire.
For their part, Military Children Education Coalition advocates “for the timely implementation of clear and consistent educational benchmarks known as the Common Core State Standards” for the “nation’s nearly 4 million military-connected children,” PRNewswire also noted.
The Harkin Heights-based Keller openly raves about Common Core despite the fact that Texas rejected the federal mandate. She’s called the Common Core an “essential for military-connected students because they increase the predictability and continuity of our highly mobile students’ academic experiences” and pushing the knowledge and skills mantra of college and career” in the same wire release.
Now, Common Core isn’t just being pitched to military bases school or military homeschool families on the basis of continuity, it’s been adopted by the Department of Defense Education Act (DoDEA) military base schools and implemented into 193 fully accredited schools. DoDEA operates in 12 countries, seven US states, Guam and Puerto Rico, according to the DoDEA.
Achieve claimed that “Military support for the CCSS is strong. The standards will better prepare students leaving high school to enter military service and sharing common standards ensures military families consistency when they are deployed to bases overseas or change stations within our country.”
The Daily News in Jacksonville, North Carolina reported in May that the Common Core will be implemented in their military base schools in the 2015-16 school year. APUSH and the whole AP menu of courses will still be offered.
One of the biggest issues military families face, though, is states like Virginia and Texas, which have large military populations, “do not have Common Core in their classrooms,” the Jacksonville Daily News also noted.
Meanwhile, Keller’s Military Children Education Coalition site directs visitors to the Gates funded K-12 Core Curriculum, a 16-page feel good e-zine with article after article explaining why Common Core is good for military families. Pages 8-9 lists CCSS adoption by date, state, number of school-aged military children aged 5-18, and the assessment consortium (SBAC or PARCC) to which a state belongs.
Makes perfect sense why Keller supports the new APUSH. After all, it’s just another member of the Fed Led Ed family. Unfortunately, the Military Children Education Coalition’s motto — “what we must do — is to take care of the kids” — rings hollow by a reality that military high school kids will cease to learn what their fathers and forefathers ever fought or died for should this redesigned APUSH prevail.
Follow Merrill Hope on Twitter @OutOfTheBoxMom.