You know, if you’re going to ruin American education, you might as well go for the gold and reinvent history. And why not? If you’re David Coleman, the most prominent man in education that people all over still haven’t heard of, you have carte blanche!
In the fall of 2014 close to a half million high school sophomores and juniors will be learning from a new set of AP history standards, Coleman-style.
Currently there is a five page outline that gives teachers a clear objective for history courses. Since David Coleman has a flair for making things uselessly difficult, as in the case of taking a 3 step math problem and turning it into a 96 step problem, he has given a detailed 98 page Framework.
Not only does he give the outline of topics to be covered but he prioritizes the topics. Which topic is more important than another? Common sense tells us that some topics will be more important and some will be marginalized. Some may even be forgotten altogether.
Because my eyes have been known to glaze over and my brain tends to run screaming when it sees the name David Coleman, I have outlined some of the problems as presented by the brilliant Jane Robbins.
“The new Framework inculcates a consistently negative view of American culture. For example, the units on colonial America stress the development of a “rigid racial hierarchy” and a “strong belief in British racial and cultural superiority.” The Framework ignores the United States’ founding principles and their influence in inspiring the spread of democracy and galvanizing the movement to abolish slavery. The Framework continues this theme by reinterpreting Manifest Destiny—rather than a belief that America has a mission to spread democracy and new technologies across the continent, the Framework teaches that it “was built on a belief in white racial superiority and a sense of American cultural superiority.”
She goes on to note:
“A particularly troubling failure of the Framework is its dismissal of the Declaration of Independence and the principles so eloquently expressed there. The Framework’s entire discussion of this seminal document consists of just one phrase in one sentence: “The colonists’ belief in the superiority of republican self-government based on the natural rights of the people found its clearest American expression in Thomas Paine’s Common Sense and in the Declaration of Independence.” The Framework thus ignores the philosophical underpinnings of the Declaration and the willingness of the signers to pledge “our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor” to the cause of freedom.”
In reading through some of the pages and flipping back and forth through the 98 page Framework I found some people either missing or mentioned only once. Surely my mind was playing tricks on me, what with the glazing over and the brain running screaming.
I returned to Robbins’s article and read it again. That explains why the failure of the Frameworks to point out monumentally important figures stood out to me as so egregious.
Benjamin Franklin and James Madison are absent. George Washington, the man who led the country through a long and grueling war with the British to ultimately establish the greatest nation on earth and become the first president of said nation was literally minimized to a small snippet from his farewell address. As Robbins points out, “Two pages later, the Framework grants teachers the flexibility to discuss the architecture of Spanish missions, which presumably merits more attention than the heroes of 1776.”
If you are a true American patriot you acknowledge the good and the bad about our country, its past and present. We are an imperfect nation because we are made up of imperfect people. But we are that shining city on a hill!
If the way Coleman sees history defines his view of the present it is no wonder at all that he is a key player in transforming the minds of our school children. In the future these children who have not had a balanced look at the history of the US will be just like the David Coleman’s of the world.
And that, inevitably, will be the end of the US as we know it, today. The country is certainly careening towards disaster right now and in case our current administration doesn’t get us there before 2016, the seeds will be planted to undo America’s rich and beautiful tapestry in the coming years.
I shudder to think of what a United States filled with adults who believe in the junk science of the Next Generation Science Standards, strange and ambiguous math, English Language Arts absent the classics and a twisted, convoluted history will be like.
And the cherry on top? This is only one course. He has to develop Frameworks for 33 other AP classes.