A House committee in Oklahoma recently voted 11-4, split along party lines, to cut funding for the AP U.S. History program in their state, unless College Board changes the curriculum. Its complaint? The curriculum provides a “consistently negative view of American history” while simultaneously eliminating the concept of “American Exceptionalism” from students’ learning.
Topics like the Vietnam War, the absence of WMD’s in Iraq following 9/11 and the Iran-Contra Scandal must not fit into their idyllic vision of an untrounced U.S.A. as victors of the Cold (and every other) War and protectors of our Constitution penned with the blood of Christ himself while He and the Founding Fathers were collectively mounted upon a young-earth brachiosaurus.
Oklahoma needs to get a panhandle on its legislators. This marks the second time in a year that the Okies have tried to challenge federal educational laws. The concentrated campaign by state legislators to undermine the power of the president failed last time around — with bad results for Oklahoma — yet the legislators still insist on fighting a tooth and nail battle against the DOE for some misplaced sense of sovereignty. Last August, Oklahoma had the high distinction of being the only state to lose its reprieve from No Child Left Behind after forsaking the program in favor of their old standards. Ron White, prominent blue collar spokesman, said it best: “You can’t fix stupid.”
Or, maybe you could, with some actual funding and effort put into education. Considering how Oklahoma places 48th among states in education overall, their legislators probably think being ranked a high number on the list is a positive achievement. Education should not be a partisan issue. Funding for education should not be a partisan issue. Fighting against the federal government instead of working with them for the betterment of your constituency should not be a partisan issue.
Challenging the federal government with so much veracity on education standards is not a sign of intellectual integrity on part of the state representatives. It is a sign of slavish disdain for our current president and his administration; maybe these people deal in ignorance and fear instead of the president’s currencies of hope and change?
Regardless, throwing a tantrum over government intervention (or worse, over a course presenting factual information to students) does nothing to improve the problems in the system and only sours the relationship between Washington and the local governments. Why should the President take Oklahoma seriously when they provide no alternative to NCLB or complain solely because the AP program doesn’t put the right segments of history into the memory hole before indoctrinating students?
It’s time for the education debate to graduate to a higher level. Instead of combating each other internally over how to present our country’s past, we should focus our energy on placing in the top 10 worldwide in educational attainment, or maybe placing better than last among industrialized nations in math proficiency. If the Oklahoma legislators really care about their children’s education, they need to embrace and teach the truth — even and especially the truth of their own ignorance.
Reach the columnist at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow @OnlyH_Man on Twitter.
Editor’s note: The opinions presented in this column are the author’s and do not imply any endorsement from The State Press or its editors.
Want to join the conversation? Send an email to email@example.com. Keep letters under 300 words and be sure to include your university affiliation. Anonymity will not be granted.