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Bill Threatens Students' Right to Knowledge
By Gretchen Gales
In case you didn't already know, the Advanced Placement program, more popularly known as AP, are college-level courses at a high school level. The classes prepare you for the AP Exam where you can earn college credit before you even decide where to go. A variety of AP courses are offered, including English, science, math, foreign languages, and history.
Unless it's our own history.
AP US History, or APUSH, is a rigorous exploration of American's past, both achievements and our darkest hours. But in Oklahoma, lawmakers have approved House Bill 1380 that would eliminate funding for APUSH. Rep. Dan Fisher of Yukon criticized the course for showcasing American history's more negative events. He expressed concern that the course would cause riots and protesting. Many teachers aren't too happy about the bill.
Censorship has long been a heavily debated issue in schools. In traditionally conservative Hanover County, Virginia, this isn't new. In 1966 when Harper Lee published To Kill a Mockingbird, Lee fired back at Hanover County Schools for banning the book for being "immoral literature."
"Recently I have received echoes down this way of the Hanover County School Board's activities, and what I've heard makes me wonder if any of its members can read...it is plain to the simplest intelligence that To Kill a Mockingbird spells out in words of seldom more than two syllables a code of honor and conduct, Christian in its ethic, that is the heritage of all Southerners," wrote Lee.
Most recently, Hanover has heavily debated a documentary film that shares the opinions and impacts of 9/11 from a wide range of both American and Muslim perspectives. The film is controversial for the same reasons APUSH is: for "promoting anti-Americanism." But many students have had enough of the school board shying away from taboo topics. Local area high schoolers are taking a stand against the county's own censorship problems.
"I don't always think it's a bad thing to oppose certain things our country has done," began local student Lily Elias in regards to recent reports of throwing out certain topics in the school curriculum because they are 'anti-American.' "Pride in your country is great, but extreme nationalism can be used to manipulate citizens and that has been repeated in history over and over."
Elias is a member of the Hanover Students for Freedom of Information and Learning (HSFOIL). It was formed to combat the county's reluctance to teach students controversial or disturbing material. Students and supporters have joined the group on Facebook to promote their efforts.
"[W]hen a teacher is forced to alter their curriculum because they aren't allowed to teach 'controversial' material, it becomes a big deal to [students]. I'm in the IB program and we are told to be 'global learners.' We are adult enough to read hundreds of pages of books and have to know everything in them front to back, but [we somehow] aren't mature enough to make our own opinion based on facts our teacher gives us?"
Once again, legislators are making decisions on topics they know absolutely nothing about and don't care to know about. While they may believe they are molding young Americans into good ole' American citizens, they shove generations' minds into a cave straight out of Plato's allegory.
As a former student and beneficiary of APUSH, claiming that the course is unpatriotic and promoting an anti-American agenda is the most absurd argument I've heard in a while. APUSH not only gave me college credit, but made me realize that America has had a shady past, that doesn't mean its achievements aren't impressive. That's not to say I ignore our faults; we have many. But even the greatest man or woman makes mistakes, and that is no different from any country. A fall from grace does not always mean you are damned. If anything, anyone that can own up to their wrongdoings and flaws is pretty honorable and respectable thing to do.
In regards to the "anti-American agenda," what is more American than having the right to information about your government's past and present? What's more American than letting every student have the opportunity to critically think and learn from our nation's mistakes? What's more American than exercising our First Amendment rights? America could potentially redeem itself from the "stupid American" stereotype, but should this bill pass, it can only be assumed that the trend will continue.
#Real #Education #APUSH #Oklahoma #History #Classroom #Teaching #APUSHistory
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