On June 2, fifty-five scholars published an open letter critical of the 2014 Advanced Placement United States History framework produced by College Board, a non-profit corporation that has a monopoly on such testing in American high schools. The signatories included five scholars affiliated with the Alexander Hamilton Institute for the Study of Western Civilization (AHI): Academic Advisors Robert George, Princeton; Harvey Mansfield, Harvard University; Mark Smith, University of South Carolina; Paul Rahe, Hillsdale College; and AHI Charter Fellow Robert Paquette. The letter has received extensive national media coverage.
Peter Berkowitz, writing in Real Clear Politics, observed that “the College Board’s U.S. history curriculum framework not only embodies ideas and issues associated with college-level study but also the intellectual prejudices and partisan preferences that increasingly deform university history teaching.” Stanley Kurtz, in National Review Online, touches on several areas in which the AP Framework is grossly deficient. “The APUSH critics,” wrote Michelle Malkin for the New York Post, “make clear in their protest letter that they champion a “warts and all” pedagogical approach to their US history lessons. But they point out that ‘elections, wars, diplomacy, inventions, discoveries — all these formerly central subjects tend to dissolve into the vagaries of identity-group conflict’ as a result of the history-exam overhaul.”
In January of this year, AHI Charter fellow Robert Paquette clanged the alarm bell by publishing an article “Push-Back on APUSH” for the National Association of Scholars. “The advanced history advanced in these pages,” Paquette asserted, “carries a range of prompts about identities, social justice, and exploitation. The words ‘race,’ ‘class,’ and ‘gender,’ for example, appear dozens of times. ‘Property’ and ‘patriotism’ are mentioned twice; the Bible, once; ‘honor’ and ‘virtue,’ not at all. Does APUSH’s operational manual aim to elevate teachers’ and students’ understanding of American history or to smuggle into the classroom, Howard Zinn-style, a useable past, one tailor-made to advance identity politics and a progressive ideology?”