It may not be comfortable for parents to realize that their kids’ teachers are molded by an almost entirely left-wing credentialing cartel, but it’s been happening for decades and is now overtly politicizing K-12 history classes. This week high school teachers protested the College Board’s changes to its Advanced Placement world history classes, which thousands of high schools teach across the country every year.
“You cannot tell my black and brown students that their history is not going to be tested and then assume that that’s not going to matter. Right, the people in power in our country already are telling those same students that their history, that their present, that their future doesn’t matter. And by you making this decision, you are going along with that,” teacher Amanda DoAmaral told College Board Senior Vice President Trevor Packer at a conference this week.
Rather than pointing out to DoAmaral that it’s historically illiterate — not to mention possibly racist — to assume you know a person’s ancestry simply by looking at his or her skin color, Packer told her other parts of the curriculum could fit in her demands. The AP curricula changes teachers object to are primarily simply dividing world history into two classes because, as one might reasonably imagine, it’s difficult to thoroughly cover the history of the entire world in a single class. College Board frequently gets complaints about cramming too much into its courses.
I have received constructive feedback regarding the changes to the AP World History exam for the 2019-20 academic year. Such dialogue has suggested a path forward that will enable us to achieve several priorities that I believe we share and can agree on. pic.twitter.com/0SfjDh0VOx
— Trevor Packer (@AP_Trevor) June 7, 2018
“There are so many students who are being told they don’t matter outside of the classroom. … Really, the message that this would be sending is that their histories don’t really matter,” high school junior Noah Mitchell told Politico. Mitchell is presumably one of DoAmaral’s former students, since they’re from the same town, participated in AP world history classes at the same time, and are quoted in the same article, although the reporter does not disclose that probable fact. (Wonder why.)
Apparently Mitchell’s AP world history class did not teach him the obvious reality that people defined on a fabricated dark-light skin color binary as “brown” can easily share just about no history at all. As far as I know, I have zero family ties to Scandinavia despite being “white” (that’s in quotes because it’s closer to peach, thanks). If someone told me I was being denied “hearing about my history” because I’ve never taken a Scandinavian history class, I’d look at him like the blockhead he is, and do whatever was in my power to make sure he never got near any curriculum committee.
Mongols and American Indians have very different histories, but to a person who only sees superficial exterior features they may look similar. Apparently that’s enough to tick off the “approved” box for learning their history instead of the history of politically disfavored outward appearances.
The pertinent thing, however, is not grouping people by appearances but by shared experiences, events, and ideas over time. That is partly what the study of history is. It is not an exercise in identity politics. It cannot be. People do not fit these fake, stupid boxes that somehow still seem to imbue people with enough pomposity to tell the rest of us to quaver before their stark raving ignorance.
“As a person of color who was in AP World History this past year, all you’re doing means so much to me. Throughout elementary and middle school, the only times I learned about my people was starting at slavery, then with the civil rights movements and apartheid. That’s it,” commented Zaria Roller on a YouTube video of DoAmaral’s remarks. “AP World meant so much to me because I got to learn about the great empires that existed in Africa and Asia before colonization destroyed them.”
Apparently Mitchell and Roller’s AP world history classes did not teach them that, if neurotically bean-counting skin color and body features is an activity one must compulsively undertake despite its racist undertones, plenty of “brown” and “black” people have long histories in Europe and the Americas. Ever heard of the Moors? The Incas? The Ottoman Empire? So just stop right now, because until you can demonstrate you know a blazing single thing you most certainly have no license to tell other people what we ought to think. Opining on history curricula should require knowing a least a little history, and folks who say patently ignorant things like this immediately disqualify themselves.
It’s idiotic to decide who is important to study based on what their skin and hair looks like rather than our available knowledge about their civilization and their effects on their world and the worlds that came after it, especially our own. In fact, as research from social psychologist Jonathan Haidt and others has shown, using race as an organizing category for understanding the world actually increases racism. So curricula along the lines of what this teacher wants will make the world worse for her “black and brown” students, and everybody.
Perhaps it’s to paper over her embarrassing lack of knowledge of both history and social science that DoAmaral had to fall back on grievance-stoking pretexts to assert authority: “There’s a woman who wants to speak first, thank you,” she said to open her remarks at the teacher forum. This prompted audience applause, as did many of her other power plays. Students have set up a supportive petition on Change.org that has several thousand signatures. Such faculty and student support of these objectively terrible ideas is worrisome.
Later, she said to Packer, “I would love to know how many black and brown teachers are on the board making those decisions” about AP curriculum, implying that their skin color — rather than, say, pertinent and transcendent criteria such as a search for truth, a well-informed opinion, good professional judgment, or the need to cultivate thoughtful citizens — should determine their ideas and decisions.
Now, let’s be clear. College Board is in the middle of revamping all its history curricula. American history and European history were updated before world history came up on the dock, and independent evaluators found the changes there slanted the curriculum uniformly to the Left. Therefore, it is almost a certainty that the revamp to its world history curriculum will do the same.
But boilerplate anti-American, anti-West leftism does not placate identitarians like DoAmaral and those clapping and hollering her on at this conference for AP teachers. They want more. And these are the people teaching your kids, and your kids’ peers. Parents and taxpayers who do not consistently and very noticeably respond with a clear demand that their children and tax dollars not be held hostage to destructive politics like these are abdicating their responsibilities to their kids and the country.
Citizens who are unwilling to see that their children learn to seek truth, love what is good about their heritage, constructive ways to examine and respond to social evils, and to be wary of people selling tribalism — a country full of citizens like that is choosing to destroy itself. That would be a sickening shame and a horrific loss for the world, because despite its serious failures, the United States has been and still is the best place to try to make a life on our weary, poor, violent, stricken earth.
DoAmaral closes her remarks with a clear statement that at least folks like her understand what’s at stake in curriculum wars like these: “Looking ahead ten years, these kids are voting. Like how are we supposed to stop Islamophobia if we can’t teach Islam because it’s not on the test?”
In response, Packer suggested agreeing to disagree.
“I will not agree to disagree,” DoAmaral replies. “I will keep fighting on this.”