I don't write about politics often, but I had to write this one. (Note for regular readers: the next When I Grow Up post will appear next Wednesday.) You see, the state of Oklahoma, the state I love and call home, is in the national news for a bill that was introduced to ban Advanced Placement (AP) US History. I'll go in detail on the ridiculous reasons they gave in a minute, but it's important to note that the notorious OK Representative Sally Kern has jumped on this idea and decided that ALL AP classes should be banned because they are too similar to Common Core, which our state voted to repeal last year.
I have oh so many issues with what is going on. Let me start by saying I don't think this discussion should be partisan based. But since most of the people arguing in favor of the ban are Republican (more specifically, ultra conservative Republicans) it will probably turn into that. However, let it be known that I am a registered Republican and a Christian. And I am still adamantly against what some of our legislators are trying to do.
Let's look at the argument against AP US History. The bill (follow the link to read it in its entirety) was introduced by Representative Dan Fisher. He introduced this "emergency" legislation because he believes AP US History fails to teach "American exceptionalism". He argues that AP US History only teaches "what is bad about America".
I'm not sure what Fisher thinks students should be learning. Are we supposed to avoid talking about the Civil War, slavery, Plessy v Ferguson, women's suffrage, the civil rights movement, the internment of American citizens in World War II, and how the government treated Native Americans? I guess we avoid all the messy history and just focus on the good stuff. Maybe the teachers should just show movies like Team America: World Police and call it a day?
Now please don't assume I don't love this country. I absolutely 100% do. I've teared up at the National Anthem on more than one occasion, ok? I believe our country has done some serious good in this world. I believe that overall we are an amazing nation. But I also know that we have done some messed up things. Every country has. Every person has! You can't have good without bad. And covering up the bad things is NOT what this country is about. You know what they say about history, right?
Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it. - George Santayana
Ok, I think we can all agree that Fisher's reasoning is far from sound. Now let's talk about Sally Kern's proposal. (Full disclosure: that woman may be my least favorite politician of all time.)
Oklahoma repealed Common Core last year, but I don't want to focus on that. I want to talk about the fact that AP classes have been around for years. In fact, they predate Common Core by about 50 years, and now Kern is wanting to lump them all together. Her exact words were "AP courses are similar to Common Core, in that they could be construed as an attempt to impose a national curriculum on American schools." Except they are anything but. Schools are NOT required to offer AP classes. Students are NOT required to take them to graduate. And the government has nothing to do the curriculum. That is chosen by the College Board, a non-profit organization.
Look, our state is not doing too well education wise. Oklahoma consistently ranks well below average on all education measurements. In fact, we are usually in the bottom 10. I don't have the answer on how to change that. But I can guarantee that banning AP classes is not the way to go.
I personally took several AP classes in high school, and I think they are a great way to save some money on tuition. Banning AP classes would only deprive Oklahoma students of that opportunity, not to mention deprive them of the chance of a higher level of education. I know my AP Biology class was one of the few high school classes that really prepared me for college.
If you agree with me and think Oklahoma should NOT ban AP classes, make your voice heard. If you don't live in Oklahoma, you can sign this Change.org petition. If you live in Oklahoma, take a few minutes and call your legislators. They have no way of knowing how you feel unless you actually tell them. Don't know who to call? I didn't either! There's a page on www.okhouse.gov that lets you enter your address and see who represents you at the state and federal level. This is a state issue, so call your state representative and state senator and tell them what you think.
For more info on this craziness, check out some of these articles.
- Oklahoma Might Ban AP Tests, but Why? - Washington Post
- Oklahoma Bill would Make AP US History History - CNN
- Oklahoma lawmaker seeks to do away with AP history courses, says they emphasize 'what is bad about America' - KFOR
- Oklahoma Lawmakers Vote Overwhelmingly to Ban Advanced Placement History - ThinkProgress
- OK Lawmakers Seek to Ban "Un-American" Advanced Placement High School History Class - Sputnik International
So what do you think? And if you live in Oklahoma, are you planning on calling your legislators? I know it sounds scary, but I promise most of them are nice and really do want to hear from people like you! If you are at all against what these representatives are suggesting, please take a few minutes today and make your voice heard.
*For the record, Fisher is part of the Black Robe Regiment, which is a group of "church leaders and laypeople can network and educate themselves as to our biblical responsibility to stand up for our Lord and Savior and to protect the freedoms and liberties granted to a moral people in the divinely inspired US Constitution", according to their website. Do with that what you will.