, 2014


Opposition pending:
Lancaster school board will study
American history curriculum issue

by Audrey Thomasson

KILMARNOCK—Advance American history curriculum is undergoing a radical shift in high schools across the U.S.—but is it rewriting history at the expense of the founding fathers and the principals of Constitutional government?

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Lancaster school board chairman Dr. Robert Westbrook opened a debate at Monday’s school board meeting challenging the College Board’s changes to advanced placement (AP) history courses and tests which he said bypass American heroes and glory and present a deeply stained and dark past. The changes will be reflected in the 2015 spring SAT testing period.

The College Board is a private organization which issues the SAT college entrance and advanced placement exams. Critics of the new curriculum point to the board’s new president and chief executive officer David Coleman as the architect of the curriculum changes. He is also the architect of the controversial Common Core.

“He (Coleman) has every right to his private beliefs but he should not have a right to impose his beliefs on our children in this manner,” said Westbrook. “Our American education tradition has been to give the facts without personal bias or opinion and allow students the freedom to make up their own minds and form their own opinions. How can anyone know history without learning all sides of the issues that defined the struggles of the past...and led us to become the nation we are today?”

Westbrook noted the new curriculum and test questions largely leave out those who shaped America, like the Pilgrims, James Madison, Thomas Jefferson, Ben Franklin and George Washington, except when they are presented as examples of conflict and believers of their own superiority by culture, class and race over Indians and blacks.

Great statements from leaders like Patrick Henry and Martin Luther King are also omitted, he added.

“Everything in this view of history is negative...Should this distorted view of America go unchallenged and remain unchanged, we will each have to share in the result of our children being transformed into adults with a cynical view of America’s place in history instead of their recognizing America’s greatness. Political indoctrination of children happened in Germany and was known as the Hitler Youth Program; it has no place here.”

Westbrook recommended the board approve a formal letter to the state’s Superintendent of Public Instruction Dr. Steven Staples to express “our dissatisfaction with coercing any political ideology upon our students” and to postpone introduction of the changes.

During the public comments section, Beth Clarke read the opinions of conservative critics of the changes who claim the framework is a radical departure from history standards that will jettison high school history into a left-leaning emphasis.

While District 1 member Bob Smart called it “rewriting history” and District 4 member Patrick McCranie said he supported Westbrook’s proposal, two members asked for more time to review the curriculum.

“I’m not willing to write a letter based on one periodical’s opinion,” said District 3 member Don McCann. He compared the College Board’s changes to the “shift going on with the SOL tests. It’s dealing with concepts—a conceptual change to let students wrestle with the concepts.”

Noting they only learned of the changes the day before the meeting, McCann asked that they take time to review all the materials and vote on sending a letter at the September meeting.

District 2 member Ella Davis introduced the motion seeking more time to study the issue before acting on a letter expressing “dissatisfaction,” which passed 5-0.


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