Oklahoma is OK with cherry-picking history

In what seems to be an effort to disprove the long-held notion that schools are a place for learning, lawmakers in Oklahoma are looking to banish Advanced Placement U.S. History from its schools’ curriculum. 

After the College Board made changes to the course last year, it seems the curriculum now abandons the idea of painting U.S. history with a favorable brush and opts to address issues such as the oppression of women and minorities that dominated the country for about 200 years. 

While it may sound like an article from satirical news outlet The Onion, an article from CNN reported that an education committee in Oklahoma did pass a bill that would rewrite how the College Board dictates the course to be taught, if not completely eliminate the course from high schools. 

As stated in a CNN article, Oklahoma State Rep. Dan Fisher wants to make his mark on the AP course because he feels the College Board’s changes have made the course consist of a “new emphasis on what is bad about America.” Specifically, Fisher actually has a problem with more class time spent discussing racial and gender oppression instead of talking even more about the Founding Fathers. 

According to another CNN article, Fisher is leading the charge against AP U.S. History with HB 1380, a bill that would ban state funding for the course. The writers of the bill were also brazen enough to include what they believe should be taught in the AP class, as they are apparently more academically gifted than the College Board.

This move by Oklahoma representatives is an action too close to allowing government officials to dictate how the youth view the country and create the perspective they develop. According to the article, Fisher also wants to include speeches by former Presidents George W. Bush and Ronald Reagan, but excludes Presidents Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama as being worthy enough to have speeches in the proposed curriculum.

The signs all point to a group of politicians who have an agenda geared toward showing their preferred version of history, rather than an unbiased one that highlights both the good and the bad in the country’s history. 

For them, pieces such as the Gettysburg Address, James Madison’s Federalist No. 10 and Thomas Paine’s “Common Sense” should get the ax.

History is already written by the winners, but when history is cherry-picked to reflect a small group’s personal favorites, there is something wrong. The classroom already channels students’ knowledge and impacts their views from there on out, so to deny teaching AP students about the negative parts of history limits how they can view the treatment of those cast off as unequal. 

If anything, the U.S. needs a reminder of past mistakes to approach modern-day civil rights issues, especially since we’re in a time when gay marriage is making its way to the Supreme Court. It is important for high school students not to obtain an idealized version of the country’s past, as the Three-fifths Compromise, slavery and the mistreatment of women were very real. 

The deliberate goal of Fisher and others to make high school students ignorant of the realities of the past in favor of further aggrandizing the Founding Fathers is a pathetic use of the political machine to knock education down a few notches. 

 

Adam Mathieu is a junior majoring in studio art.

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