Oklahoma Republicans seek to ban AP history as unpatriotic

Reuters/Rick Wilking
Conservative lawmakers in Oklahoma are looking to ban Advanced Placement (AP) US history courses in the state, arguing it teaches students “what is bad about America.”

The bill, HB 1380, was introduced by Rep. Daniel Fisher, a Republican and a member of the Black Robe Regiment – a group that seeks to dismantle the “false wall of separation between church and state.” In a hearing on the proposal, Fisher complained that the new AP framework approved by the College Board in 2012 takes away the focus on America’s principles in order to highlight negative aspects of US history.

"(The new framework) trades an emphasis on America's founding principles of Constitutional government in favor of robust analyses of gender and racial oppression and class ethnicity and the lives of marginalized people, where the emphasis on instruction is of America as a nation of oppressors and exploiters," he said, as quoted by CNN.

If passed, the legislation would eliminate all funding for AP history courses in the state.

When the bill came up for a vote in the state’s Education Committee, it passed easily 11-4. All Republicans voted for the bill while Democrats were opposed. It is unclear if there is enough support for the bill to clear the state House and Senate.

The bill does not, however, stop at banning AP history. It also mandates that normal history classes in Oklahoma incorporate a long list of primary documents into their lesson plans, including three speeches from President Ronald Reagan and the address given by President George W. Bush on September 11, 2001.

Additionally, the documents include the sermon known as “A Model of Christian Charity” by John Winthrop, the sermon known as “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” by Jonathan Edwards and the “Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death” speech made by Patrick Henry in 1775.

Teachers around Oklahoma responded with fierce criticism to the proposal in a new report by Newsweek.

My first reaction is that this is totally going to undermine public education in Oklahoma,” says Matt Holtzen, an AP US history teacher at Enid High School in Enid, Oklahoma. “We’re looking at a $611 million shortfall in the budget for Oklahoma this year. And AP US is what they target to cut?”

The move by Oklahoma lawmakers comes as a number Republicans in several states – Colorado, Georgia and Texas, for example – fight against the revised course introduced by the College Board in October 2012. In August 2014, the Republican National Convention adopted a resolution denouncing the framework for being “dominated by leftist ideology.” The new course becomes effective in 2015/16.

READ MORE:Denver students stage mass walk-out over US history ‘censorship

More specifically, critics say the new AP test is critical of the late President Reagan, is anti-free enterprise and portrays corporations as greedy and self-serving. They argue it also minimizes religious influences and distorts the motivation and actions of settlers in the 17th to 19th centuries.

In an editorial, local newspaper Tulsa World branded Fisher's effort as "ignorant."

"It’s not a secret left-wing plot to inculcate American youth with seditious ideas," the editorial stated, "just a hard class for bright kids."