A Jeffco Parent Responds to Julie Williams’ Press Release

A Jeffco parent took the time to thoroughly review and research Board Member Julie Williams’ Press Release and conveyed her research and findings to SJK for community release.  Take the time to click through the links provided for more indepth information.

 

Correcting Several Deceptions in Julie Williams’ Press Release Re: AP U.S. History Curriculum Committee

 

WILLIAMS: I was truly surprised by the reaction of so many people regarding the AP U.S. History curriculum (APUSH). I must not have explained myself clearly. I thought everyone, or at least everyone involved in education understood the huge debate and controversy surrounding the new APUSH.

 

RESPONSE: Most people – who take the time to review the curriculum – actually do understand, and to quote the New York Times: The latest accusations arise from belief born of assumption rather than careful reading. The document is not a curriculum; in the words of David Coleman, president of the College Board, it is just a framework, requiring teachers to populate it with content required by their local standards and priorities. Those who assume that Americas founders are neglected seem not to have actually read the material. The Declaration of Independence stands front and center alongside the Constitution in the section devoted to experiments with democratic ideas and republican forms of government, including those of France, Haiti and Latin America. The framework makes clear that these new ideas included evangelical religion.

The framework even makes a bow to American exceptionalism noting the emergence of distinctly American cultural expressions in the new republic and declaring that the United States developed the worlds first modern mass democracy. For good measure, one can find Washington’s farewell address not to mention the Articles of Confederation, state constitutions, the Emancipation Proclamation and the Four Freedoms in both the curriculum framework and the sample exam released by the College Board.

 

WILLIAMS: To be accused of censorship? “Seriously?” That is just ridiculous. I am advocating for just the opposite. So, please let me start at the beginning.
APUSH is new. This is important to state because some may not know it is NEW. It came into existence quite recently under dubious and secretive circumstances (just like the Common Core).

 

RESPONSE: NOT TRUE! College Board transparently addresses the thought behind the latest revisions. Had Ms. Williams been paying attention to education news prior to being elected – or even done a little research before launching her proposal – she likely would have seen a January 2011 New York Times article addressing the pending changes to the APUSH curriculum, calling it “part of a broad revamping of A.P. courses and exams to reduce memorization and to foster analytic thinking.”

 

WILLIAMS: If fully implemented, APUSH would greatly modify and standardize the teaching of US History in every high school in America.

 

RESPONSE: AP courses are ALREADY STANDARDIZED by College Board. That is the point.

 

WILLIAMS: I presented a resolution to Opt-Out of Common Core and PARCC Testing and to my dismay it was tabled in favor of a deeper look. APUSH fits right into Common Core and a one size fits all curriculum. One of the main characters behind the Common Core, David Coleman, is the president and chief executive of the College Board.
APUSH rejects the history that has been taught in the country for generations.

 

RESPONSE: NOT TRUE! The American Historical Association “objects to mischaracterizations of the framework as anti-American, purposefully incomplete, radical, and/or partisan.”

 

WILLIAMS: It has an emphasis on race, gender, class, ethnicity, grievance and American-bashing while simultaneously omitting the most basic structural and philosophical elements considered essential to the understanding of American History for generations. Let me give you some examples of who is omitted: Jefferson, Adams, Madison, Franklin with not even a mention of Martin Luther King, Jr. who was on the forefront of the civil rights movement. It ignores lessons on the Boston Tea Party, Lexington, Jefferson’s First Inaugural Address, Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address and the list continues…

 

RESPONSE: NOT TRUE! Check out Fiction and Facts about the AP US History Curriculum Framework.

 

WILLIAMS: APUSH is untested and unresearched!

 

RESPONSE: NOT TRUE!! AP courses and exams are designed by committees of college faculty and expert AP teachers who ensure that each AP subject reflects and assesses college-level expectations.

 

WILLIAMS: It has been left up to the school districts to do the research and that is merely what I am suggesting. There needs to be a debate on the merits of rejecting current history curriculum before an examination on the new curriculum begins. Many community members have brought to my attentions their concerns, as a Board Member, it is my duty to bring the following concerns to the forefront:
Parents who have reviewed APUSH have been very unhappy with what their children will be taught and have lost trust in the “experts”.

 

RESPONSE: Ive looked at it and I think its great. You can check it out, too.

 

WILLIAMS: Please note: This is NOT a committee to review teachers, this is NOT about teachers, it is about curriculum review, which is a board’s responsibility.

 

RESPONSE: Voters – if you thought for a second that your curriculum was going to be decided by two unemployed guys and an office manager – people with no prior experience in education – would you be more careful with your vote??

 

WILLIAMS: Balance and respect for traditional scholarship is NOT censorship. Again we believe that exposure to the curriculum itself, not inflammatory rhetoric; will convince most parents that a review committee is a very good idea. I humbly ask our Jeffco history teachers to review their philosophical position on the APUSH. I think the majority will be surprised to find they agree. I invite them to join us while we investigate this curriculum, together.

 

RESPONSE: Havent found a teacher yet who agrees that Jeffco needs yet another curriculum review committee.

 

WILLIAMS: Here is some perspective: The Texas State Board of Education has voted to set aside the new AP U.S. History Framework in favor of its own state-mandated U.S. history curriculum. If there is no concern with the curriculum then I would ask why so much resistance? No one is talking about getting rid of AP U.S. History.

 

RESPONSE: You just defended your argument by noting Texas has already taken steps to set aside the new AP U.S. History Framework. Clearly you, Ms. Williams, are the one who keeps talking about getting rid of AP U.S. History.

 

WILLIAMS: I am just asking for us to take a deeper look. Let’s weigh this curriculum against the best interests of our students and see where we land. 
Last, when it comes to history I believe all children graduating from an American school should know 3 things: American Exceptionalism, an understanding of US History, and know the Constitution. 
Regards,

Julie Williams

Jeffco Board of Education

 

RESPONSE: JeffCo is a diverse, well-run and highly successful school district.  Let’s keep it that way!

 

Additionally, SJK spoke to several individuals who participated in the curriculum review committee and textbook review panel within the past 1 1/2 years.  All stated that the reviews were extremely thorough and the committee has always been allowed to provide extensive feedback to our district leadership.