Teachers Banned From Teaching 'Negative' US History

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Those who forget history are doomed to repeat it, said somebody once (ironically, I forget who). The origin of those words matters less than their truth, however, which is what makes this recent story out of Oklahoma so particularly upsetting and terrifying: a legislative committee has overwhelmingly approved a bill that would cut funding for the teaching of Advanced Placement U.S. History because, according to Representative Dan Fisher, the new AP U.S. History curriculum focuses on "what is bad about America" instead of "American exceptionalism."

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By, you know, telling the truth about stuff that happened in this country a long time ago.

And it's not just Oklahoma, either: There have also been complaints and/or efforts to revise or ban the Advanced Placement U.S. History exam in Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Colorado.

Those who oppose the "framework" of the course, such as retired high-school teacher Larry S. Krieger (who started a campaign against the course two years ago), say that it paints the Founding Fathers as "bigots" and talks about U.S. internment camps and the dropping of the atomic bomb during World War II instead of playing up "the valor or heroism of American soldiers." In Colorado, an irate school board member suggested that the course be modified to promote "patriotism" and not "civil disorder, social strife, or disregard of the law." 

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Oh-kay. So, basically what we have here is a bunch of people who are afraid that too much book-learnin' is gonna turn America's youth into a bunch of dirty Commies. (Or hippies! Egads!!) People who are worried that telling kids the facts about our checkered past (slavery, etc.) is going to lead to a French Revolution type scenario.

But here's the thing: No matter what your political affiliation (and yes, the concerned parties are Conservative/Republican), you've got to understand that this logic is deeply flawed. Of course no one wants to think about the collective harm we've done as a nation. But all of us -- kids especially -- need to learn and face the truth, no matter how uncomfortable, because that's the only way we'll ever move on. From  the very beginning, we teach our kids that it's okay to make mistakes -- the point is to learn from them and become better people. How can we do that as a country if the truth about our past is obscured?

Of course parents can always supplement whatever courses are being taught in school (I do when necessary), but still. Should they have to?

Do you think lawmakers should be able to ban AP U.S. History?

 

Image © iStock.com/ajt

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