Publication Date

February 19, 2015

The Oklahoma legislature is considering a multifaceted bill that both rejects the recently revised Advanced Placement US History framework and establishes a statewide curriculum built around core documents and principles.The bill in question, HB1380, would create an alternative framework for the teaching of US history by constructing a core of “historical and foundational documents” for use in Oklahoma history classrooms across grade levels, including in AP courses. The bill would also ban the use of state funds for AP courses “until the College Board changes the framework for the course and reverts back to the course framework and examination that were used prior to the 2014-2015 school year.” Supporters of the bill argue that the AP framework amounts to a national curriculum, focuses only on the negative aspects of United States history, and ignores “American exceptionalism” (Tulsa World).

The American Historical Association recognizes the value of historical scholarship and teaching that help students appreciate the broad range of historical phenomena that contribute to the evolution of any nation. The current AP framework empowers teachers to shape their own courses around a set of themes that encompass that range.

The AHA has already issued a statement in support of the revised framework and taken action on a comparable debate that emerged in Colorado last fall. Additionally, as I explained as part of a New York Times op-ed, the AHA supports the commitment of the revised AP framework to the teaching of historical thinking as a key component of an educated and engaged citizenry.

UPDATE: The Oklahoma legislator who introduced HB 1380 has pulled it, pending revision. He acknowledges the significance of opposition to his efforts, especially from teachers.

This post first appeared on AHA Today.

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