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Ron Radosh

Recently, a few conservative intellectuals have raised serious questions about the College Board’s effort to develop a new curriculum for the Advanced Placement history courses. Stanley Kurtz, at National Review Online, writes that “this Framework will effectively force American high schools to teach U.S. history from a leftist perspective.” Naturally, the College Board argues that its intent is only to provide “balance,” to streamline the curriculum, and to enhance teacher flexibility. In other words, all benign matters that educators should welcome.

Are Kurtz and the other critics, like National Association of Scholars executive Peter Wood, right in their criticism? Wood argues in a preliminary report, like Kurtz, that “this newest revision, however, is radical.” The board, he notes, citing other critics, is substituting a specific curriculum in place of their previous broad frameworks, promoting a negative view of the United States, and erasing major figures (the Founding Fathers, of course) from American history.

Wood is concerned that “perhaps more than other parts of the college curriculum,” the board is turning history “into a platform for political advocacy and for animus against traditional American values.”  Moreover, he thinks that the “College Board has turned AP U.S. History into a briefing document on progressive and leftist views of the American past.  It is something that weaves together a vaguely Marxist or at least materialist reading of the key events with the whole litany of identity group grievances.”

We have seen this particularly in the books of Howard Zinn and his followers, and in the book and video series on World War II and the Cold War by Oliver Stone and Peter Kuznick. And, as we know, their works are widely adopted in the assigned readings of many high school teachers and college professors. Within the academy, there has also been a widespread adoption of monographs that are based on race, class and gender to the exclusion of the old type of political history that once exemplified the best the profession had to offer.

These charges have led to an attack on the board’s critics, as revealed in this harsh column in the Los Angeles Times by  columnist Michael Hiltzik. Its blaring headline reads: “The right wing steps up its attack on the teaching of U.S. history.” Rather than address the substance of the claims made by critics like Wood and Kurtz, Hiltzik offers his readers a standard left-wing McCarthyite smear, arguing that it is nothing less than “an anti-intellectual assault.” He accuses Kurtz of declaring that a “grand conspiracy” exists made up of left-leaning history professors to emasculate their profession by belying the concept of “American exceptionalism.” (Kurtz’s answer to Hiltzik can be found here.)

To weigh the accuracy of the claims made by Kurtz and Wood, I read the College Board report. As a historian of recent America, 1900 to the present, and U.S. foreign policy in the 20th century, I evaluated what the curriculum offers in the area of my own expertise. I’ll start with Period 7, 1890-1945. Take as an example how it frames questions about Progressivism and the New Deal. The report puts it this way:

Progressive reformers responded to economic instability, social inequality, and political corruption by calling for government intervention in the economy, expanded democracy, greater social justice, and conservation of natural resources.

There is no indication that Progressive reform actually may have been instituted by corporate regulators for their own benefit, at the expense of small manufacturers and producers. This argument, by historians like Gabriel Kolko, James Weinstein and Martin J.Sklar, whose pioneering work changed the standard view of progressivism, is not even raised as an alternative way to comprehend the Progressive era. The paragraph, as structured, reflects the old traditional left/liberal view of the Progressive Era, and takes it as a given.

Top Rated Comments   
>>They claim America was built on slavery but ignore all the states that never had it or didn't even exist at the time.
This is one of your very best comments, in its' entirety. All of central Europe was held in "serf-hood" until around the 1860s, a land owner could even take out a mortgage on the life of a serf. Something flipped right around the time of our Civil War, that made the rest of the world rethink their own notions of slavery.
12 weeks ago
12 weeks ago Link To Comment
That's because they associate exceptionalism with whiteness. Every thing is race these people. The Left ignores history and racializes it. They claim America was built on slavery but ignore all the states that never had it or didn't even exist at the time. The Left constantly spreads black lynchings and Jim Crow equally throughout all America, which is a lie. Columbus is not the Great Navigator but the great slaver and genocidal maniac, as if he was some particular sect of the KKK in an otherwise innocent world. That ignores the entire world from Portugal to Damascus was in conflict at the time and awash in slavery, with the ironic exception of Europe. It's one thing to have a few Europeans involved in the slave trade, another to have it institutionalized within nations.
12 weeks ago
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He who controls the past controls the future. He who controls the present controls the past. - George Orwell

Obviously these left wing know nothing loons think Orwell's work was a collection of instruction manuals.

They should not be writing history. Others should be writing psychiatric case studies about them.
12 weeks ago
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All Comments   (66)
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“And, as we know, their works are widely adopted in the assigned readings of many high school teachers and college professors.”

Zinn's book is ONE interpretation assigned, along with other viewpoints offered for students to formulate cogent arguments. Now, what is the overall numbers and percentages of American history teachers at the high school and college level who assign his book? Please, do tell.


"“Within the academy, there has also been a widespread adoption of monographs that are based on race, class and gender to the exclusion of the old type of political history that once exemplified the best the profession had to offer.”

Again, what are the numbers here? If you are going to make this assertion of "widespread adoption", provide evidence, not an unsupported statement.
Furthermore, is not the "old type" just one version of how events are portrayed? Is it not the responsibility of the student to be provided a number of resources, both "right" and "left", to judge their validity? To detect bias? To draw their own conclusions?


"“There is no indication that Progressive reform actually may have been instituted by corporate regulators for their own benefit, at the expense of small manufacturers and producers.”

Therefore, APUSH teachers will invariably offer source materials to challenge those assertions.


"The newly proposed AP placement test curriculum is part of the New Left’s goal of making “a long march through the existing institutions” that would end with a new radicalized United States, on the road to socialism."

This passes for objective commentary?


"Conservatism is about creating trap doors to escape. Conservatives should accept that reality and spend more time creating trap doors to escape the progressive ideology."

Exactly the type of statements that teachers and students of history will vet.


"Until conservatives come to control the bodies who determine educational materials or realize they can opt out of the system entirely by means of home schooling, unschooling or the creation of a separate educational system, nothing will change."

Do you even comprehend the irony of your statement? Well, leftists took over and indoctrinated everyone, not its rightists turn to engage in the same conduct--conduct that you claim to oppose!
12 weeks ago
12 weeks ago Link To Comment
Dad29, it is disingenuous of you to ask for percentages of teachers using Zinn. No one could possibly know that. But you have no basis for assuming it is low given how widely it has been touted over the years, and among teachers in particular. You also have no basis for assuming it is presented as one interpretation among others. In many cases I know of, it is presented as THE alternative and correct version of history, and is heavily spun as an antidote to supposedly false patriotic versions of the past. In fact, Zinn's book is shoddy even as leftwing history as some leftists have acknowledged. It would be unfair to the left for a teacher to honestly balance it against other interpretations if that ever were to happen in the classroom. The single best take on Zinn I know of is Sam Wineburg's.

https://www.aft.org/pdfs/americaneducator/winter1213/Wineburg.pdf

On race, class and gender, you mistake Radosh's meaning when he speaks of "the old type" of history, since he is clearly not talking about a single interpretation of the past within that old type given that no single interpretation ever did prevail. As to your final point, after your "Furthermore," yes, teachers have a responsibility to teach students to assess alternative interpretations. The AP Framework claims to want to do that. However, Radosh's central point here is exactly that its Concept Outline does NOT do that, it presents and frames all issues in a single way and excludes many legitimate historical interpretations from view in the process.
12 weeks ago
12 weeks ago Link To Comment
"I can't figure out where he is getting some of his quotes, since they do not come from Radosh's article."

Fourth paragraph. You can't miss it. Well, you did.


"Dad29, it is disingenuous of you to ask for percentages of teachers using Zinn. No one could possibly know that."

Exactly my point. But Radosh made the claim (again, read paragraph 4), and I am calling on him to substantiate.


"But you have no basis for assuming it is low given how widely it has been touted over the years, and among teachers in particular."

I never made this assertion nor assumption. It may be low, it may be high. What we need then are facts or statistics rather than an supported characterization.


"In many cases I know of, it is presented as THE alternative and correct version of history, and is heavily spun as an antidote to supposedly false patriotic versions of the past."

You are offering anecdotal evidence, which tends to be biased.


" In fact, Zinn's book is shoddy even as leftwing history as some leftists have acknowledged." Intellectual pissing matches by lefties, which is EXACTLY why this source, along with Wineberg's criticism, are PERFECT resources for students of history to disseminate.


"you mistake Radosh's meaning when he speaks of "the old type" of history."

I would prefer that Radosh come out and clarify, rather than yourself. More reliable.


"However, Radosh's central point here is exactly that its Concept Outline does NOT do that, it presents and frames all issues in a single way and excludes many legitimate historical interpretations from view in the process."

Hence the term OUTLINE, one that APUSH teachers recognize that it is advisory, not mandatory. The interpretations of history that will be debated is up to the individual teacher, as it has always been.


11 weeks ago
11 weeks ago Link To Comment
What we need then are facts or statistics rather than an UNsupported characterization.
11 weeks ago
11 weeks ago Link To Comment
In reply to myself, I see I did not note the rest of Dad29's comment. I can't figure out where he is getting some of his quotes, since they do not come from Radosh's article. So I see no point in responding to them.
12 weeks ago
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"common core"
12 weeks ago
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"Progressive reformers responded to economic instability, ...."

Nor does there seem to be discussion of how well - or not - those interventions worked.
12 weeks ago
12 weeks ago Link To Comment
I was on the beach in Stamford, Ct. this week. A "dad" of maybe 25, covered with tattoos was lecturing his kids, like 6 to 8 about how the Whites "Slaughtered the Indians," and how the Iraqis invented the wheel.
Kids learn most from mom and dad. Are you Conservative? Libertarian? Constitutionalist?
Get married. Make a commitment and start knocking 'em out.
12 weeks ago
12 weeks ago Link To Comment
I'll take bets that one day his kids will be working for someone else's kids - someone who did not have such a slanted point of view...
12 weeks ago
12 weeks ago Link To Comment
Actually, this isn't so much a long march through the institutions as it is plugging of a loophole. Something the left does very dilligently.

College history classes have been fully leftist for a long time. But some majors, especially the smart kids in science could get around taking the class by taking AP classes in high school instead. How can the left plug that loophole?

They do it by controlling the tests taken to get AP credit, so that the kids who get out of college history class, can only get the credit by having the same information earlier.

Ultimately, progressivism is about creating a prison of the mind. Conservatism is about creating trap doors to escape. Conservatives should accept that reality and spend more time creating trap doors to escape the progressive ideology. Most of the trap doors so far have been built on luck, not political programs. Think home schooling. It grew spontaneously, and then conservatives adapted. A conservative strategy to build trap doors is the most benefitial to our future. Complaining about leftists is like complaining about snakes for acting like snakes.
12 weeks ago
12 weeks ago Link To Comment
"President Ronald Reagan, who initially rejected détente with increased defense spending, military action, and bellicose rhetoric, later developed a friendly relationship with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, leading to significant arms reductions by both countries."

This one struck me in particular. It distilled that entire era into one sentence, yet still was able to imply so many things that are just so wrong.
12 weeks ago
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"The future is known, it is the past that keeps changing."
12 weeks ago
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Essentially, it's the left's ongoing attempt to utterly transform America from a nationa where by dint of hard work you can rise far above where you started...into a traditional Euro-Socialist failed state.
12 weeks ago
12 weeks ago Link To Comment
AP History and history in general were taught no better in the 80's when I (I won't use the word 'studied') sat in the classroom listening to the pap we were being fed. While it is admirable that articles such as this shed light upon processes that are purposefully kept off the radar, it is also extremely frustrating. This is not a product of the message contained but instead is because the end result is miniscule.
The author makes his point, readers vent and the liberals subverting our educational system do whatever they wish because: 1. They don't care about criticism from anyone not in agreement with themselves. 2. They know that any such criticism will amount to so much sound and fury.
They are in charge. Their side spent decades slowly taking over various societal institutions in order to control how children are raised, the messages we hear through media and indeed even the very words we use.
Until conservatives come to control the bodies who determine educational materials or realize they can opt out of the system entirely by means of home schooling, unschooling or the creation of a separate educational system, nothing will change.
Our words are so much sound and fury and the liberals in these positions of bureaucratic power know this.
12 weeks ago
12 weeks ago Link To Comment
That's why it's important to vote in conservatives at the local level - every office from dog-catcher through school boards on up to higher local office.
12 weeks ago
12 weeks ago Link To Comment
Heh...you should look into what happened when conservatives took over the School Board in Wake County, NC!

The left only recently retook control over it, but lordy there was drama aplenty when they were not in power.

It's clear they consider the school systems fundamental to their efforts and were willing to expend enormous resources to recapture that particular governing body.
12 weeks ago
12 weeks ago Link To Comment
Now we know what Bill Ayers has been doing all those years. Control the schools, make sure that only the 'correct' history is told, The 1960s radicals have won.
12 weeks ago
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