COLUMBIA - A new battle resembling the efforts that rid South Carolina of Common Core is brewing.
Parents are raising concerns over a new framework released by the College Board for the Advanced Placement US History class that teachers will use this year. South Carolina's brightest, they say, will be taught a leftist, anti-American course.
Sheri Few, president of South Carolina Parents Involved in Education, addressed the state Board of Education on Wednesday, along with other members of SCPIE. She noted to the board that The College Board's new president, David Coleman, was the architect of the Common Core Standards.
"AP US History concludes its treatment of World War II with this blunt statement: 'the decision to drop the atomic bomb raised questions about American values'," Few said at the meeting. "This is the perception of the writers of the new AP US History and it's certainly not the perception of the patriots of this country."
Few, along with those who spoke at the hearing, called on the board, the Department of Education and the Education Oversight Committee to stop the framework from being used in South Carolina's classrooms. The problem, however, is that no state agency has control over the College Board, a private company, which developed the advanced placement program as a way for high school students to receive college credit.
EOC Executive Director Melanie Barton stressed every student who takes a regular or AP History class has to take an end-of-course assessment based on South Carolina standards, which is worth 20 percent of their grade. More than 5,000 AP U.S. History tests were given in South Carolina schools during the 2012-13 school year.
"I don't quite understand what the issue is in South Carolina when students are taught South Carolina standards," Barton said. "We have the safeguards to prevent intrusion."
Department of Education spokesman Dino Teppara echoed Barton in noting that students who take AP History are required to take a government course and an end-of-course exam in U.S. history to graduate from high school in South Carolina
"We are very proud that the conservative Fordham Institute gave just one state a straight A for its U.S. history standards - South Carolina," Teppara said. "Regardless of whether students take the optional AP history course or its accompanying exam, they will be taught to our state's standards, which celebrate our military, founding fathers, and demonstrate that our nation is truly a Shining City on a Hill."
Plus, the framework merely notes broad requirements, Barton added. It's not a curriculum. Teachers will use the framework and South Carolina standards, she said. Barton also stressed that the course is optional; only kids seeking to obtain college-level credit take the class, which is more rigorous than a typical history course.
But Few said Friday it isn't fair for education officials to shortchange South Carolina's brightest by treating the course like an optional issue.
"It's nonsense," Few said. "Our very brightest students need to take the most rigorous courses available if they want to compete with students from other states."
The Republican National Committee passed a resolution that recommended the College Board delay the implementation of the new framework and requested Congress withhold federal funding from the agency until a new framework has been produced. The Charleston County GOP passed a similar resolution Aug. 11, requesting the state legislature investigate the new framework and demanding the education department delay its implementation.
In response to the criticism, Coleman released a letter on Monday thanking the organization's critics "for their vigilance. He noted the language of the framework predates him and included a full sample exam.
"Just like the previous framework, the new framework does not remove individuals or events that have been taught by AP teachers in prior years," Coleman wrote in the letter. "Instead, it is just a framework, requiring teachers to populate it with content required by their local standards and priorities. We will soon release a clarified version of the course framework to avoid any further confusion."
In the meantime, students returning to school this week who sign up for the course will receive instruction from teachers who have been trained with the current framework.
"It's very much like Common Core," Few said. "The argument was that (teachers) have local control and flexibility. It's the same thing we've heard before.
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