Right Hooks

By Popular Demand: Worthwhile Revisions to AP History Exam

Nate Jackson · Jul. 30, 2015

Finally, some good news for a change. The College Board, the nonprofit organization that administers AP exams to high school students, has announced yet another revision to its history framework. But this time it’s for the better. Previously, the College Board painted American history in far too negative a light, emphasizing our nation’s sins while ignoring or minimizing its uniqueness and greatness. Some Founders, such as Declaration of Independence author Thomas Jefferson and Constitution writer James Madison, were mentioned; that’s it — mentioned. But they were taught as examples of Western class, gender and racial evil. And while teachers could choose to teach the Constitution as it’s written, they would disadvantage their students by doing so because the real Constitution wasn’t on the test. After numerous scholars objected in an open letter, however, the College Board worked to make revisions. Neglected Founders are back, and there’s even a new section on the concept of “American exceptionalism.” A College Board official insisted they meant no harm, and that American exceptionalism was previously omitted because they assumed they didn’t need to spell it out. We don’t buy it, and the changes don’t go nearly far enough, but perhaps the episode proves that strong, principled voices on the Right can make a difference.

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