The classic novel Brave New World describes a future in which people have lost all of their liberty and in which they have become drugged robots obedient to a central authority. It also details how this control was first established. First, the rulers had to erase all history and all the people’s memory of a time before their bondage.
Today, the history of George Washington’s leadership has been erased in the new Advanced Placement (AP) U.S. History test/curriculum, taking effect in the fall of 2014. The College Board, the organization that publishes the Scholastic Aptitude Tests (SAT) and AP tests, has also decided to completely blot out Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, and James Madison, among others. In this newly revised course, General Washington merits one fleeting mention in one sentence, in reference to his Farewell Address.
American history without George Washington? That is like the Beatles without Paul McCartney or the Super Bowl without Vince Lombardi. A former AP U.S. history teacher, Larry Krieger, provides insightful analysis of these sweeping changes here. The rebuttal of Trevor Parker, senior vice president for AP programs at the College Board, can be found here, and Mr. Krieger’s defense here. As an aside, it should be noted that the College Board’s new president, David Coleman, is also one of the major architects of Common Core.
The 98-page College Board AP U.S. History curriculum framework can be read here. Mr. Krieger’s analysis makes clear that this deletion was by design and not by accident. The new College Board U.S. history defines the USA as a racist, genocidal, imperialist nation. Their whole point is that America is bad so of course they leave America’s heroes out.
Some examples of this theme can be observed in the “Key Concepts” of the framework enumerated in each historical period as key guidelines for teachers:
Period 1: 1491-1607
Key Concept 1.1. Before the arrival of Europeans, native populations in North America developed a wide variety of social, political and economic structures based in part on interactions and each other. (Page 31)
Translation: American Indians lived in a natural state of peace in harmony with nature before the Europeans arrived. No mention of brutal inter-tribal wars and practices such as scalping.
Period 2: 1607-1754
Key Concept 2.1 Differences in imperial goals, cultures and the North American environments that different empires confronted led Europeans to develop diverse patterns of colonization.
Section II, A: English colonies attracted both males and females who rarely intermarried with native people or Africans, leading to the development of a rigid racial hierarchy. (Page 35)
Translation: The colonizing of the New World was one large imperialist, racist scheme. No mention of the Pilgrims on the Mayflower seeking religious freedom here.
Key Concept 2.2 European colonization efforts in North America stimulated intercultural contact and intensified conflict between the various groups of colonizers and native peoples.
Section II, A: “Continuing contact with Europeans increased the flow of trade goods and diseases into and out of native communities. Teacher’s example: population collapse of Catawba Nation” (Page 38)
Translation: The imperial efforts at cultural conquest resulted in genocide of the Native Americans. Left unmentioned are the millions of people who fled European wars in the 1600s, such as the “Pennsylvania Dutch” settlers fleeing the 30 Years’ War in Germany. Not exactly an imperialist effort.
Section II, B: “The resulting independence movement was fueled by colonial elites, as well as some grassroots movements.” (Page 42)
Translation: This war was mainly driven by a lot of well-connected, self-interested rich guys. Apparently, the overthrow of a monarchy by citizen militiamen seems not to merit as overthrowing “elites.”
Sample Test Questions:
Question 1: Some historians have argued that the American Revolution was not revolutionary in nature. (Page 114)
Sample Good Answers (Page115):
“Individuals who were wealthy, powerful and influential before the event continued to possess wealth, power and influence later. George Washington, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson could serve as examples.”
Translation: The poor continued to be oppressed by the rich. George Washington, John Adams, and Thomas Jefferson were rich bad guys.
“Other good responses might analyze the absence of revolutionary change for groups such as women, slaves, and Native Americans following the Revolution.” (Page 115)
Translation: The Revolution was actually bad. The Founding Fathers were racist and sexist.
So what does this “brave new history” hold for our children?
After suffering the blizzards of Valley Forge, improbably enduring for five years against the world’s superpower at that time, Great Britain, and prevailing at Yorktown, the victorious General Washington rejected all power after the War of Independence, rebuked those who would have made him king, and simply retired to his farm in Virginia. How could the College Board convince our children that our country is founded upon and hell-bent on conquest after learning about the father of our country? The answer is they could not. So the College Board had to erase the story of George Washington’s inimitable life.
The College Board explicitly instructs teachers to teach the history of the United States from the first settlers through the Declaration of Independence and into the present as being one long continuous period of racist, imperialist conflict. Thomas Jefferson is omitted from the framework. Yet “we hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, among them, life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” captured the spirit and hearts of a people yearning for freedom. In the words of John Adams, “the Revolution was effected before the war commenced. The Revolution was in the minds and hearts of the people.” You cannot teach young people that our nation is inherently racist and also conduct an in-depth review the historical impact of Thomas Jefferson’s writing of the Declaration of Independence, up to and including its influence on the Civil War and the Civil Rights movement. So Thomas Jefferson had to be erased. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. also was deleted.
After gaining our liberty, James Madison was one of the key people responsible for the creation of the world’s first limited government of the people, by the people and for the people. This explains leaving James Madison out of this “brave new history.” You can’t omit the founding of the American republic based on individual liberty and limited government with a Bill of Rights if you discuss James Madison’s work. So “the Father of the Constitution” had to be erased.
This is more than just an academic spat among history teachers. America today is the freest, most prosperous land the world has ever known. Everything everyone has in this country exists because of the original gift of liberty bequeathed to us by General George Washington and our Founding Fathers. Let’s also not forget that hundreds of millions, if not billions, of people around the globe owe their current freedom to the United States of America and, by extension, to our Founding Fathers.
Benjamin Franklin was asked a question upon exiting Independence Hall after finishing the Constitution. “What kind of government have you given us, Dr. Franklin?” He replied, “A Republic, if you can keep it.” If your child never learns about Benjamin Franklin’s story or about how the Revolutionary War was won or about the Gettysburg Address or about the D-Day landing at Normandy (all erased in this “brave new history”), then he will never know that it is up to us to keep our Republic. It is for us the living never to forget our forefathers, who fought and sacrificed for us that we might live a life of liberty. It is for us to be dedicated here to the unfinished work they so nobly advanced.
Erasing the Founding Fathers from the premier U.S. history course for secondary students is unconscionable and intolerable. We must protect them from being erased. The list of people who make up the College Board’s Board of Trustees can be found in the Appendix below, listed alphabetically by state. Many of them are employed by public secondary school systems or state universities.
I suggest the following course of action:
If you are a parent of high school age students, boycott AP U.S. History with them together, and do not enroll.
Call-write your governor and state representatives and demand that they pass a resolution to drop the AP U.S. History course offering until the curriculum change is reversed.
Tell your state representatives that they should require each member of the Board of Trustees of the College Board who is a public employee (see list below) to renounce the new AP U.S. History course curriculum and vote to abolish it as a condition of his or her continued employment.
Consider the ACT as an alternative to the SAT for your college-bound teenager. The SAT has a dominant market position and has a powerful hold on the American mind as “the” vehicle to college. The security of this dominant position has bred arrogance in the College Board. I would not advocate that someone put his or her child’s future educational opportunities at risk; however, nowadays, universities readily accept both the ACT and SAT.
Our national anthem ends with a question. The College Board has answered and will be directing the teachers of America to instruct your children and mine that the USA is the land of the imperialist and the home of the racist. Now, you might ask yourself: will that star-spangled banner yet wave over the land of the free, or will it hang limp over the Brave New World? As for me and my children, I can confirm that the spirit of ’76 will not be erased.
College Board of Trustees:
Arizona: Karen Francis-Begay, Asst. Vice President, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ
California: Nathan Brostrom, Executive Vice President, University of California, Oakland, CA
California: Karen Cooper, Director of Financial Aid, Stanford University
Connecticut: Caesar Storlazzi, Director of Financial Aid, Yale University
D.C.: Daniel J. Rodas, Isaacson Miller
Florida: Luis Martinez-Fernandez, Professor of History, University of Central Florida
Hawaii: Belinda W. Chung, Director of College Counseling, St. Andrew’s Priory School, Honolulu
Indiana: Pamela T. Horne, Associate Vice Provost, Purdue University, Lafayette, IN
Indiana: Mary Nucciarone, Director of Financial Aid, Notre Dame University
Illinois: Margareth Etienne, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, University of Illinois, Champaign, Illinois
Illinois: Von Mansfield, Superintendent, Homewood-Flossmor High School, Flossmor, Illinois
Minnesota: Pam Paulson, Senior Director, Perpich Center for Arts Education, Golden Valley, MN
New Mexico: Margie Huerta, Special Assistant to the President, New Mexico State University, Las Cruces, NM
New York: Shun Fang Chang, Assistant Principal, Bronx High School of Science, Bronx, NY
North Carolina: Shirley Ort, Vice Chair, Associate Provost, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, North Carolina
Oklahoma: Paul W. Sechrist, Oklahoma City Community College
Pennsylvania: Maghan Keita, Chair, Villanova University, Philadelphia
Pennsylvania: Daniel Porterfield, President, Franklin and Marshall College, Lancaster, PA
Rhode Island: Jim Tilton, Director of Financial Aid, Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island
South Carolina: Scott Verzyl, Associate Vice President, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC
Texas: Terry Grier, Superintendent, Houston Independent School District, Houston, TX
Texas: Michael Sorrell, President, Paul Quinn College, Dallas, TX
Texas: Paul G. Weaver, District Director of Counseling, Plano Independent School District, Plano, TX
Washington: Philip Ballinger, Associate Vice Provost, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington
Washington: Chio Flores, Assistant Dean of Students, Washington State University, Pullman, WA
via Will Fitzhugh.