Take a stand for American history

portrait of Mary Sue Ribardo

Mary Sue Ribardo taught history in the Bryan public schools.

(This article first appeared as a guest editorial on theeagle.com.)

Leonard Pitts said, “The tale of two Americas must be told.” (Eagle, Sept. 28) I agree.

First he discussed some good things America has done. Then he told about some bad things America has done and gave his opinion that America contributed to the rise of Adolph Hitler.

He proceeded to talk about students in Jefferson County, Colorado, staging mass walkouts last month. He indicated it was due to students not liking the school board’s wanting teachers to “promote citizenship, patriotism, essentials and benefits of the free enterprise system.” He gave a quote that said teachers were to avoid lessons to encourage or condone civil disorder, to which he wrote, “Like, say, the Civil Rights Movement.”

He said the students “recognized this for the act of intellectual vandalism it was,” and said,”a ‘happy history’ will leave students positive, patriotic – and ignorant.” He talked about telling the whole truth and censoring history.

One member of the Jefferson County school board made a proposal to form a curriculum review committee for the new AP U.S. History (APUSH) framework to see if it aligns with the Jefferson County history curriculum. Words in her proposal, quoted by Pitts, caused a fire storm of criticism. One supporter stated he wished the criticism would not be toward the school board, but toward the College Board. I agree. Let me explain.

I am a retired U.S. history teacher. I taught the traditional curriculum, which covers the good and bad of America. Leonard Pitts’ article does not tell the whole truth. He and the students have been misled. It would be admirable of him to do research and then come forward with a revised article that tells the truth. That would be the brave thing to do.

Here is what he would find. The new AP (advanced placement) U.S. history exam is to be taken by our country’s smartest students in May 2015. The new framework and exam were devised by the College Board, a private company making millions of dollars, under the leadership of new president and CEO, David Coleman. Coleman is known as the architect of Common Core, a controversial set of standards that the federal government has enticed states to accept in return for federal money. Critics say the standards are poorly written, often confusing to students and thoroughly saturated with leftist propaganda.

Until this year, APUSH resented a balanced (good and bad) study of American history. The new framework does not. According to Ken Mercer, a member of the Texas State Board of Education, Howard Zinn’s revisionist, anti-American textbook was recommended in Summer 2014 training of APUSH educators. The new framework omits many significant individuals and events (James Madison, Thomas Jefferson, Martin Luther King Jr.,the battle of Gettysburg, D-Day, liberation of Nazi concentration camps and on and on) and presents a clearly biased and inaccurate view of many events (motivation and actions of 17th- through 19th-century settlers, development of Cold War tensions and ultimate fall of the Iron Curtain. …)

David Adcock, a retired philosophy professor, in analyzing the framework, says it, “involves a total restructuring of the historical narrative of the founding of our nation and its history to the present. It takes broad social developments and treats these ‘narrative substructures’ as facts, when they are not ‘facts’ in the traditional sense. Indeed, I doubt it can even be regarded as ‘history’ in the traditional sense.”

Instruction for the new APUSH not only will affect students in public schools. Students in private schools and those who are home schooled will need to be taught to take the exam too.

David Coleman’s Common Core approach that ties APUSH, SAT, ACT and GED to “what higher education wants” (Coleman’s words), is an attempt to mold students in high school to the leftist ideology prevailing in most colleges today. Coleman and his College Board have become the de facto legislature and board of education for every state. The new APUSH surrenders state and local control of content taught to all high school students this school year.

The new APUSH framework does not include Adolph Hitler, as Pitts thinks is in the curriculum the Colorado students want to preserve. The school board wants to keep Hitler in the curriculum, not eliminate him as the new APUSH does! The same goes for the civil rights movement referred to by Pitts. It isn’t in the new APUSH framework. It’s in the traditional curriculum. It’s the new APUSH that will leave students ignorant in Colorado and elsewhere in the nation, Mr. Pitts.

Maybe 2015-2016 will be different. On Sept. 19, the Texas State Board of Education passed Ken Mercer’s resolution that hopefully will get the attention of the Texas Legislature and Congress and will lead to states taking sovereignty over education. To achieve this, Texans need to contact their state and national representatives and senators. Ask them to act on Mercer’s resolution, which is to be delivered to them. The more contact our lawmakers receive, the better chance they will do something.

The teachers’ union in Jefferson County, Colorado, lied to the students and taxpayers. The union called for a strike (“sickout” to members) because of the implementation of performance-based pay that had been approved by the school board. The optics of striking on a compensation issue wouldn’t have played well with taxpayers. So, enter the “censorship” issue. Teachers conveniently left out their real grievance in the politicized pep talks to student sympathizers.

It is reported that the National Education Association has gotten involved and organized protests are being planned. Looks as if the unions are using the students.

All of this is detrimental to education in America. What is happening in Colorado and articles such as Pitts’ distort the truth. Wake up America! Do your research. Get involved in the fight to teach traditional U.S. history, which covers the good and bad.

If we don’t, the future of our children and grandchildren will not reflect the legacy that has been handed down by generations since this country was founded. It would be hard to live with that!

For love of America espoused in the Constitution, do your part to fight against the enslavement of our students’ minds!

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