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Why doesn't Legislature ask teachers what they think of AP U.S. History or anything else?

In seeking changes to the AP U.S. History course, the Georgia Legislature argues the AP framework doesn't align with what Georgia has deemed important for students to know about our nation's history, including the founding fathers and their principles.

Indeed, Senate Resolution 80 urges revisions to APUSH, stating the course  should "incorporate the Georgia Performance Standards’ emphasis on America’s founding principles and the uniqueness of America’s role in the world."

Hoge examined what Georgia lawmakers allege is lacking in AP U.S. History and found there's more of what they consider essential in the AP framework than the Georgia standards.

I would like to thank Hoge and the other history teachers who have contacted me to share their concerns about SR 80.

In 20 years of covering the General Assembly, I don't understand why lawmakers seldom consult teachers on education initiatives.  There are thousands of teachers in Georgia.

Let's start listening to them.

By Chad Hoge

I teach AP U.S. History at Centennial High in Roswell and I would like to share my perspective on the class, the framework and Senate Resolution 80.

According to SR 80, the AP U.S. History Framework “differs radically from the Georgia Performance Standards” and APUSH “themes and concepts will be taught to the detriment of the state mandated Georgia Performance Standards.”

I would like to provide evidence to the contrary. In fact, I can show not only are the accusations made by SR 80 unfounded, but the AP U.S. History Framework actually requires a more comprehensive look at much of the material SR 80 claims is omitted or minimized.

Let’s start with the Declaration of Independence and the religious influence on our nation's history. The Declaration of Independence is mentioned twice by name and the principles are referenced two additional times in the AP Framework, whereas the Declaration only appears in the Georgia Performance Standards once. Religion is addressed in the Georgia Performance Standards three times, while it is addressed in the AP Framework 31 times.

Clearly, students taking AP U.S. History will learn more about these topics than students in a traditional, on level class. While SR 80 claims the founding fathers are minimized, in reality they are addressed more than 15 times, while only appearing in the GPS 13 times.

In this case, I understand the confusion because few of the founders are mentioned by name. However, if you take a look at t his document, you will see that any competent U.S. history teacher will understand where they must be discussed.

The accusation the framework is overly negative is likewise unfounded. I asked a few of my students to color code the first four units in the framework, underlining material they felt reflected positively on America in green and material that reflected negatively in red.

The results -- click here to see them -- were decidedly balanced with a bit more green than red. Clearly, my students’ impression differs from that of the state senators.

While the framework certainly includes negative aspects of our history it also includes items like the following:

"2.3 II C. Resistance to imperial control in the British colonies drew on colonial experiences of self-government, evolving local ideas of liberty, the political thought of the Enlightenment, greater religious independence and diversity, and an ideology critical of perceived corruption in the imperial system."

"3.1 II C. Despite considerable loyalist opposition, as well as Great Britain’s apparently overwhelming military and financial advantages, the patriot cause succeeded because of the colonists’ greater familiarity with the land, their resilient military and political leadership, their ideological commitment, and their support from European allies."

"3.2 I A. Protestant evangelical religious fervor strengthened many British colonists’ understandings of themselves as a chosen people blessed with liberty, while Enlightenment philosophers and ideas inspired many American political thinkers to emphasize individual talent over hereditary privilege."

"4.1: The United States developed the world’s first modern mass democracy and celebrated a new national culture, while Americans sought to define the nation’s democratic ideals and to reform its institutions to match them."



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About the Author

Maureen Downey has written editorials and opinion pieces about local, state and federal education policy since the 1990s.