Phi Beta Cons

This Historian Dislikes the College Board’s History Standards

One feature of leftism is that it never stops trying to increase its reach. There are always new areas to colonize to help ensure that everyone believes the right things and thinks only proper thoughts.

In the field of history, leftist notions have become dominant in colleges and universities, with most departments heavily if not exclusively populated by Marxists, feminists, and various other grievance specialties. But that isn’t enough; those historians want to dominate the teaching of history in earlier schooling and in that have found a helpful ally in The College Board. The College Board has leverage through its control of Advanced Placement courses and exams, and its new standards reflect the ideological biases of most academic historians. Of the four on its panel, all come from “social history” fields where the focus is overwhelmingly on what is wrong with America.

Those standards have come in for severe criticism by quite a few scholars who don’t believe that they will serve young Americans well. One of them is Professor Kevin Gutzman of Western Connecticut State and in this week’s Pope Center Clarion Call, he explains why he opposes the APUSH standards. They will, he writes, “accelerate the trend toward making American history mainly about race, class, and gender grievances. Events are included only if they can be framed that way.”

And when the standards aren’t pushing those concepts, they underscore other beliefs that the left wants to cultivate, such as that the New Deal was necessary to end the Depression. (Actually, it made it worse and prolonged it.) Capitalism is covered with sneers and students get no idea that our limited government, laissez-faire system was the reason why millions of people could improve their lives. APUSH, in short, will plant a lot of mistaken ideas that college profs will later water and fertilize.

Professor Gutzman is among the signatories to a letter criticizing the standards. Recently, College Board president David Coleman has said that in light of the criticism, the Board is going to revisit the standards.  Gutzman doubts that any revision would make much difference.

George Leef is the the director of editorial content at the James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal.

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