“TEACH US THE TRUTH” The Controversy Over Advanced Placement United States History
Brekke, Anjuli Joshi
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In fall of 2014, the College Board released a new Advanced Placement United States History (APUSH) framework written over seven years by a panel of professional historians. By shifting the focus of the framework from content mastery to critical inquiry, the authors hoped to bring the course more in line with college level expectations. Prominent Conservatives, however, condemned the 2014 framework and accused the College Board of seeking to indoctrinate students with leftist identity politics. Conservative pushback caused the College Board to reevaluate the 2014 framework, resulting in an updated 2015 edition. This caused an angry outpouring from media on the Left accusing the College Board of caving to Conservative pressure and white washing the United State’s checkered past. This paper argues that by positioning the new APUSH frameworks in terms of a Liberal-Conservative binary, the media coverage obscured the larger focus in both the 2014 and 2015 frameworks on the importance of dialogue and critical thinking skills in history classrooms. In contrast to the media portrayal of the new frameworks, this paper asserts that the 2014 and 2015 APUSH editions open the door for students to engage with the complexities of historical invention by presenting students with an understanding of the past as indeterminate and open to dialogue. By positioning the frameworks as promoting either Liberal or Conservative history, the media coverage inhibits effective public discussion and understanding of these reforms.
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