Fisher’s ‘APUSH’ bill does diservice to America


Callie Struby, Reporter

“Provide each student with an academically challenging, educational experience through an Advanced Placement curriculum, which will prepare graduates for success at a four-year university.”

This is Harding Charter Prep’s mission statement. But with a controversial house bill in the legislature awaiting a vote, this mission could be in jeopardy.

True to its mission, HCP’s curriculum stresses AP courses. Starting with the sophomores, all students take at least one AP class (AP European History), junior year they will tack on two more (AP Untied States History and AP English Language and Composition). During their senior year students take at least three additional AP courses (AP Government, AP English Literature and Composition, and an AP science of their choice). This brings every student that completes four years at HCP to a grand total of at least six AP courses during their high school career. In addition some students take optional AP courses such as AP Psychology, AP Calculus or an AP foreign language.

Contrary to the way most schools operate, at HCP there are no alternatives to AP courses. The courses listed above (with the exception of the senior AP science) have no non-AP counterparts offered at Harding. While some may turn up their nose at our system, saying it’s too challenging and that it doesn’t account for students that cannot keep up with the rigor of AP, or that it doesn’t give the students enough choice, the system is the way it is for good reason.

First off, HCP does not have the classrooms or the teachers available to offer non-AP alternatives to its students. Unfortunately these are not easy problems to fix. We can’t add more rooms to the building, even if we had the funding. Renovating the building is a project that would take years and the shortage of teachers is something that HCP has experienced before. This year four classes were without teachers for extended periods of time, the shortest being two weeks. Three of the classes were AP science classes. The shortage of teachers is a problem, not to mention the shortage of qualified AP teachers.

Even if HCP could get enough teachers to offer alternatives to AP courses, there isn’t room for those teachers to teach. With Harding Fine Arts occupying the fourth floor and basement, and both schools at nearly full enrollment, space is at a premium.

However, the most important reason that our system operates the way it does is because it challenges students. It prepares them for the rigor of college and makes it so that students in general find that college is either easier than or equivalent to HCP.

Along with the rest of the staff I personally feel very strongly about this. As a senior who graduates in a mere two months I have been reflecting on my time at HCP a lot recently. While it has been challenging and at times I have wanted nothing more than to give up, I am incredibly grateful for HCP and the education it has given me, an education that would be incomplete without the AP curriculum.

And while Representative Dan Fisher (R-Oklahoma District 60) simply wants to amend the AP US History curriculum, it sets a dangerous precedent. A precedent that involves allowing the state legislature to dictate what is and isn’t taught to students. The truth is members of the state legislature are very rarely qualified enough to be setting legislation.

The bill (HB1380) originated in the Oklahoma House of Representatives’ Education committee, where it was approved in a party-line vote. The bill’s original language called for a new program that would replace the current AP US History course. This was all justified by the assertion that the curriculum as it is highlights “what is bad about American” and doesn’t display “American exceptionalism.”

I have two major problems with this bill. First off, what is in the AP US History curriculum is HISTORY. Meaning it actually happened. So whether it’s slavery, Japanese internment, cruelty against Native Americans, Freedom Summer, the KKK or the Iraq war, it’s all true. It’s all factual and it all actually happened in this country no matter how horrible it may be.

Secondly, I love my country but we are not exceptional. We have many problems just like the rest of the world. America is unique and brilliant in many ways but it is not without its problems. Teaching students that “America is exceptional” and taking out the unattractive parts of our history is wrong. Not only is it biased, but it shows an utter disregard and lack of respect for our history. Are there parts of our history that are shameful? Yes, absolutely. But there are also parts that are beautiful and honorable. We as Americans as well as people around the world need to respect our history. We need to appreciate how far we’ve come and the important lessons our history has taught us.

If Representative Dan Fisher wants people to see why our country is great, changing history isn’t the answer. The answer is by studying our history, ugly details and all. The answer is to look at the people and the groups who changed our nation and made it better, because the best thing about this country is it’s capacity to change. The answer is to embrace our past while everyday working for a better, brighter, and more open America. That is how we honor our country.