Tag Archives: American history

New AP US History is Just Another Hot Mess

It’s back-to-school time in many parts of the country, and that can only mean one thing: more evidence rearing its ugly head of yet another tool to dumb-down America’s students. This time, the students who are the best and brightest are being targeted for mediocrity- those who take AP (Advanced Placement) courses.

Each semester, these hard-working high school students fill their schedules with AP courses in hopes they will be able to get a head start towards their college education by getting some credit before they ever set foot on a college campus. What will be different this year, beginning this month, is the framework for the AP U.S. History course, known as APUSH.

Imagine sitting in a class on American history and not being exposed to Thomas Jefferson and Ben Franklin. Or getting merely a brief mention of George Washington via his Farewell Speech. Or learning about the Civil Rights movement without the names Martin Luther King, Jr. or Rosa Parks. Talk about twisted history!

You don’t have to imagine any longer, because you can see for yourself on the website of the College Board what the new framework for APUSH looks like. In a nationwide conference call earlier this week, opponents to this new framework for teaching (or not teaching) American history warned parents if they don’t push back on this and refrain from enrolling their students in APUSH, it will most certainly have a negative ripple effect. Unlike the Common Core State Standards that have been delayed in many states as parents continue to learn more about it, APUSH will impact private and homeschooling students as well.***

The AP programs are run by the College Board, an organization of unelected people with no accountability to “We the People”. Concerned Women for America has been following this closely and was among those involved in this week’s conference call. Their website has resources available for parents who may be hearing of this for the first time.

Larry Kreiger has taught AP classes for more than 35 years and his specialty is U.S. History. He was a member of the panel during the conference call and didn’t have much to say that was positive about the new framework. He said the old one had a 5-page Topic Outline that provided a chronological sequence of key topics that were closely aligned with the standards of most states.

The new APUSH framework is 98 pages, and according to Kreiger, its pretty alarming in what they leave out—and what they put in: “With 98 pages to work with, there is more than enough space to include Ben Franklin, James Madison, and Dr. Martin Luther King, among many others who are not mentioned. The College Board has failed to explain why the Framework omits these key historic figures while it does have space to include Chief Little Turtle, the Students for a Democratic Society, and the Black Panthers.”

Because the new APUSH framework doesn’t mesh with the standards most states have set, teachers will be forced to choose between teaching to yet another high-stakes test, or teaching their state’s standards alongside it, potentially jeopardizing their students’ scores on the new APUSH exam.

Teachers always seem to be forced into teaching to some test or other, and not just in American history. How will students become good citizens without knowing important foundations of the nation, or having in-depth discussions of the Declaration of Independence or The Constitution? If all they’ll get is a hardy helping of how bad America is while they’re still in high school, they’ll definitely be prepared for more of the same once they get to college.

What they won’t be are thinkers who’ve been presented with many different aspects of the rich American story—its heroes and villains; its successes and failures. That’s how you get Americans to hate America.

If you haven’t yet seen Dinesh D’Souza’s movie America that I reviewed here last month, go see it. It’s very much related to what’s happening with these new U.S. History standards. The new APUSH is just another example of how the far-left is stripping young people of their heritage.

***Note: Although some private schools and even homeschooling parents are aligning their curriculum with Common Core, it’s not required- – yet—so its effect on them is still up in the air.

History cartoon

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Movie Review- “America”

AMERICA_DesktopWidescreenThe creator of one of the highest-grossing documentaries in box-office history has paired once again with an Academy-Award-winning producer to bring another unsettling scenario to the big screen as we prepare to celebrate America’s 238th birthday.

Dinesh D’Souza (2016: Obama’s America) and Gerald Molen (Shindler’s List) present viewers with the question: What if the United States of America had never been? In fact, the movie’s subtitle invites us to “imagine the world without her.”

The film first faces the critics of America head-on by breaking down the arguments that the radical left has made against this country: it was founded on racism, genocide, oppression and theft. These beliefs are behind their desire to see the country get taken down a few pegs—to a point where we’re no longer a leader in the world. D’Souza interviews those who hold these beliefs (and have passed them onto younger generations), like Ward Churchill. He was a college professor best known for his disparaging remarks about the victims of 9/11 shortly after that event. Sitting through this portion of the film gave me some idea of what it must be like to be a conservative student on nearly any college campus today, where history, economics and pretty much any other subject are presented from the point of view of the left.

This was really a strong point of the movie. By setting up the fact there’s been an effort among many in our society who wish to undermine the American idea—and backing it up with interviews—D’Souza shows us that not everyone who lives here or who was born here loves it here. This is important to establish up front, as he then goes one by one, refuting each claim made against America. He does this quite well using news clips and more interviews that give the story of America the balance it deserves.

America isn’t just a series of news clips and sit-down interviews, however. Dramatic re-enactments are used effectively throughout the movie to bring moments in history, and those who made history, to life. We see General George Washington commanding his troops; President Abraham Lincoln giving his last speech before being gunned down by an assassin’s bullet; former slave-turned-abolitionist Frederick Douglass, and the experience of one Vietnam POW at the Hanoi Hilton.

D’Souza and co-director John Sullivan (2016: Obama’s America) are skilled storytellers, as they bring the audience into the past, all the while making connections to today. Anyone who may not be familiar with the teachings of Saul Alinsky will come away from this film with a better understanding of who he was and how his radical views have come full circle in the current occupant of the White House, as well as the woman who hopes to follow him (Hillary Clinton).

While watching America, you get a sense of how important it is to learn American history, and how much has already been lost due to revisionism. After all, you can’t really know where you’re going until you know where you’ve been. D’Souza maintains that America is now at a crossroads. As other generations have had to step up to preserve and protect the nation at various points in time, it’s now up to us to restore America. As he says in the film, “We need another Washington or Lincoln or Reagan…but we don’t have them. We have us.”

America is a feast for history lovers, but it’s also got a great soundtrack. Stay through the end credits and enjoy an uplifting—and rocking—new version of “The Star-Spangled Banner” by a group I’ve never heard of called Madison Rising. They call themselves “America’s most patriotic rock band” and it’s worth sticking around for a listen. You may even want to download it to accompany you on your Independence Day Weekend activities.

 

A Haven for Heroes

On another Tuesday morning eleven years ago today, the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center cast their final shadows over the neighboring buildings in lower Manhattan.  Before noon that day, the shadows would be gone, and so were the towers.  The world– and the New York City skyline– had changed forever.

One small, unassuming building that miraculously escaped the effects of the collapse of the towers and the resulting hurricane of debris and humanity was St. Paul’s Chapel.  As the oldest continuous-use public building in New York City, it survived the burning of New York in September 1776 when the British re-took the city from the Continental army.  Back then, St. Paul’s was saved by a bucket brigade.  Flash forward to 2001, and it was saved by a 100-year-old sycamore tree that bore the brunt of the towers’ collapse, shielding the small building as if Divine Providence were saving it for a special purpose.

Within days of the terrorist attacks in 2001, St. Paul’s became a place of refuge for the rescuers.  Due to its close proximity to Ground Zero, rescue and recovery workers would make their way to the chapel where they found a hot meal, massage therapists to soothe their aching muscles, and people to pray with them and for them to soothe their aching souls.  Some would just come to rest or sleep in the pews after long hours of working in “the pit” that was Ground Zero.  One police officer called St. Paul’s an “oasis of heaven in the midst of hell.”

Exhibit inside St. Paul’s Chapel memorializes those who died.

Volunteers from all faiths and walks of life came from around the country to help the helpers.  This ministry to the workers at Ground Zero continued for several months until the recovery work officially ended in May 2002.

This wasn’t the first time in its history that St. Paul’s filled an important role as a place for reflection and worship for citizens and leaders following a traumatic time.  Another American hero made his way to the doors of the chapel on a day long before 9-11.  Before attending a service of thanksgiving at St. Paul’s in April 1789, President George Washington was inaugurated just a short walk away from the chapel in Federal Hall (on Wall Street).  At that time, the nation’s capital was New York City.  Having just come through the war for our independence, the young nation and its citizens were in need of direction and an uplifting sentiment from their new leader (much like the days following the attacks).  In his inaugural address, Washington stated:

“No People can be bound to acknowledge and adore the invisible hand, which conducts the Affairs of men more than the People of the United States. Every step, by which they have advanced to the character of an independent nation, seems to have been distinguished by some token of providential agency.”

George Washington sat here: this is where our first president prayed and worshiped at St. Paul’s during his time in New York.

The same could be said of the little chapel that survived the fall of the Twin Towers.  Today, St. Paul’s Chapel remains, as always, a place of worship, but also serves as sort of a mini-museum to where the events of September 11, 2001 can be remembered and reflected upon by all who visit there.  Several exhibits memorialize those who perished, and pay tribute to the brave police officers, firemen and other first-responders who put themselves in harm’s way in order to save others.

Another St. Paul’s exhibit: police and fire departments from all over the world sent their badges and other items in support of the workers at Ground Zero.