HB 1380 makes history with pushback against APUSH

“An Act relating to schools; directing the State Board of Education to adopt a certain United States History program and assessment; requiring United States History courses to include the study of certain documents,” states HB 1380.

On Feb. 16, this new bill was presented to the Oklahoma legislature. The bill will ban Advanced Placement U.S. History from Oklahoma school systems, cut future funding on for the program and enforce a new curriculum to replace it.

In the same week of Feb. 16, the Oklahoma House committee passed the bill, with 11 Republicans voting for the measure and four Democrats opposed.

Several Oklahoma politicians who want to ban APUSH courses from their school systems, are calling the course unpatriotic after a new framework was introduced in October 2012.

The bill itself was presented by Daniel Fisher, a Republican representative of Oklahoma and member of the Black Robe Regiment, a group that self describes as seeking to dismantle the false wall of separation of church and state. Daniel claims that the APUSH course defines what is bad about America and fails to teach American exceptionalism, which led him to remove the curriculum and add his own.

The Guilfordian reached out to Daniel, but he did not respond.

Here on campus many are critical of the bill’s goals.

“No reasonable house would pass such a bill, and the fact that such bill exists really says more about the neurosis of the man who drafted it,” said senior and history major Patrick Withrow.

“I can’t imagine anyone honestly viewing the APUSH curriculum as being revisionist or anti-American.”

Other students echoed this sentiment.

“Unfortunately, I didn’t take APUSH in high school … I wish I would have taken the course because it would have given me a better background information about America’s history,” said first-year Meagan Wood.  “I think that Representative Fisher is making a huge mistake by removing APUSH just because it’s not up to his patriotic standards.”

Daniel did single out a couple of documents that should be taught to all high school students. These include both earlier documents such as the Gettysburg Address, Madison’s Federalist paper No. 10 and “Common Sense” by Thomas Paine as well as later documents including Martin Luther King’s “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” and the “Ballot or the Bullet” speech made by Malcolm X.

“(Teachers may) teach each document in a manner and order to facilitate student learning,” says the the bill. “Teachers may (also) include other foundational and historical documents.”

Even with this list of required readings, however, teachers find the bill problematic.

“I have been an APUSH teacher for several years, and I have even had kids from seven years back that have come up to me to thank me for teaching them the essence beyond American history, so taking away APUSH is maniacal,” said Lynn Fisher, head chair of the history department at Asheboro High School in an email interview. “Every future APUSH student should experience learning the good and bad about American history.”

Further criticism has focused on the fact that Daniel includes Republican speeches in his new list of mandatory readings, including speeches by George W. Bush and Ronald Reagan, but none from our three last Democratic presidents: Barack Obama, Bill Clinton or Jimmy Carter.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email