Proposed ban on AP US History highlights hypocrisy, devalues lessons of the past


Brooke Kushwaha

Arguing that the new AP US History curriculum understates triumphs of American history and emphasizes the mistakes of our past, Oklahoma lawmakers recently voted 11-4 to ban the class.

Brooke Kushwaha, Assignment Editor

I’m not a fan of pop quizzes, but I still believe AP US History (APUSH) deserves to be taught. On Monday, Oklahoma lawmakers voted overwhelmingly to ban APUSH from classrooms. The bill’s main proponent, Rep. Dan Fisher (R) believes that the class is not patriotic enough and does not promote “American exceptionalism.”

The current APUSH class has been changed from recent years to center more on critical thinking skills and less on rote memorization. Previously, students could memorize a long list of dates and documents and easily get a 5 on the AP exam. This new focus on analysis provides an outlet to question motives, second-guess presidential decisions and otherwise discredit American infallibility.

Instead, Fisher has proposed a primary document-based curriculum, with speeches from Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush alongside the Gettysburg Address. There is no mention of any of the last three Democratic presidents, but I’m sure that has nothing to do with partisan bias.

Even overlooking possible political incentives and aversions to independent thought, Oklahoma has yet another beef with the APUSH curriculum. Lawmakers seem to think that the new curriculum focuses more on the blemishes of American history than the triumphs, proclaiming that a whole chapter on slavery is too much. Slavery, a phenomenon that lasted over 100 years and continues to shape race relations today. We don’t spend half that much time on George Washington, they argue.

Except we do. I knew about George Washington and his famous cherry tree by the time I was four. American students grow up reciting the Pledge of Allegiance before class every day. I’d argue that students generally receive a sugarcoated history of America up until APUSH, or even AP World History. There’s nothing patriotic about denying the rougher parts of your history. The true patriotism is learning from the past and improving our country for the future.

After all, isn’t true love the ability to accept something flaws and all? These lawmakers may love America in the honeymoon phase, but what about when the in-laws come over? To paraphrase Marilyn Monroe, “If you don’t love me during my Latin American imperialism phase, you don’t deserve me at my best.”

So rather than turn a blind eye to America’s missteps, let’s take a step back and reflect on our past. We might even learn something in the process, but not if Oklahoma has its way.