From August to October, numerous speakers addressed the State Board of Education board about the new Advanced Placement U.S. History Course that started this fall without textbooks or warnings to parents and students that the new course would de-emphasize the long, rich period of U.S. history from 1644 through 1980.
We hoped the board would deal with our concerns in some sort of affirmative manner, but it has been essentially silent. Perhaps this is because board members have not allowed the proponents and opponents to respond directly to each others’ concerns.
The general rule in policy debates is this: He who opposes the status quo gives his constructive argument, followed by the defender’s rebuttal; then the status quo defender presents her constructive arguments, and the opposition rebuts. But this is how expert witnesses presented their cases to the board: Opponent Jane Robbins spoke for 30 minutes in October, opponent Larry Krieger spoke for 10 minutes at the beginning of the public comment session earlier this month, and proponent and College Board representative Mr. Williamson spoke for 27 minutes. We still need a real discussion/debate/forum where both sides are able to respond to the arguments of the other side.
Although he was in a position to rebut his opponents, the College Board representative seemed determined to lull us completely to sleep. I did manage to catch Mr. Williamson’s assertion that the AP Framework’s focus on the U.S. labor movement is tantamount to the S.C. standards’ discussions of business, entrepreneurship and free enterprise. Of course, a discussion of the labor movement is not a discussion of the American economic system.
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The board members wandered in and out and were generally inattentive to the last speaker, so when board member Larry Kobrovsky had difficulty getting a second to even discuss his resolution calling for the AP standards to comply with S.C. history standards, it was not because of the strength of Williamson’s arguments.
The decision should be made on the basis of what is best for South Carolina. Why have standards if the best students are not going to benefit from them?
Christina Fawcett Jeffrey