North Texas Daily

Oklahoma AP history ban resonates in South

Oklahoma AP history ban resonates in South

Oklahoma AP history ban resonates in South
March 03
00:16 2015

Erica Wieting / Staff Writer

recent bill banning Advanced Placement U.S. history classes from Oklahoma high schools has caused a surge of criticism.  Proposed by Representative Daniel Fisher, the bill officially became Oklahoma law on Monday, Feb. 23.

The education committee that approved the bill claimed the AP U.S. history program as a whole casts historical events in too negative a light, thus making it a threat to public safety.

Rebecca Lanza, a fourth-grade history student teacher at Westwood Elementary School in Stillwater, Oklahoma, said she opposes the bill because it takes opportunities away from high school students.

“For some, [AP courses] give them the head start they’d need for a college education that would otherwise be unaffordable,” Lanza said.  “For others I think it gives them a chance to be challenged by the curriculum.”

As for the reason behind the bill, Lanza said she disagreed with the education committee’s claim that AP U.S. history classes are too negative.  She said she believes in teaching both the negative and the positive aspects of history.

“It’s not hard to see that history really does repeat itself, so we have to look behind us to prepare for what’s before us,” Lanza said.  “You can’t erase the parts of history you don’t like.”

She said she just had to teach her fourth-grade students about slavery. While the task was not fun, Lanza said, and it was certainly not a proud moment for our country, it is necessary that the students learn about it because it allows them to appreciate the life they live now.

Almost unanimous opposition to the bill has been the general consensus not only in Oklahoma, but also in surrounding states.  Oklahoma’s bordering states of Texas, Colorado, Georgia and North and South Carolina also have opinions on the bill, according to an article in “Inside Higher Ed.”  Among other reasons, legislators are concerned that this bill could lead to similar laws being passed in their own states.

Plano ISD freshman geography teacher Craig Mims said it is still too soon to tell if the bill will have an impact on Texas legislation.  He also said, however, that he is not entirely sure the bill is a bad idea.

“Dual credit is making the AP program obsolete,” Mims said.  “It’s basically the same thing, but you can immediately get college credit for it.”

If AP classes are simply replaced by dual credit classes, Mims said, the whole thing would just blow over.  Dual credit classes allow students to pay for a semester-long class taught by a community college professor at their high school during school hours.  They receive three to six hours of college credit if they earn a grade of C or above, Mims said.

To get college credit for an AP class, students can pay to take an exam at the end of the year.  Students are awarded college credit hours based on how they score on the exam, and also based on the college or institution that they decide to attend.

Opposition to the bill remains strong among students. American and European history freshman Margaret Lusk said she plans on teaching high school if she decides to graduate with a teaching certificate. She said the absence of history from the curriculum could really harm high school students.

“They will only hear sugar-coated propaganda that America is a perfect country with a perfect history, which isn’t true,” Lusk said.  “To love this country and be willing to fight for it, you need to be educated on our collective history.”

Lusk said by banning AP U.S. history classes, the Oklahoma legislative committee is making education a one-sided argument.

“Education shouldn’t be [that way],” Lusk said. “Or else our society is no better than North Korea.”

Featured Illustration by Jake Bowerman – Senior Staff Illustrator

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