Conservatives and various scholars were not happy with the College Board’s rollout of the new AP U.S. History Framework, and were not satisfied with the changes made after their critique as well. The College Board is repeating the same mistakes with the new AP European History framework (APEH) according to a new report released this month by the National Association of Scholars.
NAS’s comprehensive study, The Disappearing Continent: A Critique of the Revised Advanced Placement European History Examination, documents how APEH treats Europe’s history as a neo-Marxist, generic narrative powered by abstract social and economic forces. APEH defines modernization around secularism, the state, and a thin supportive intellectual history. The framework mentions neither Christopher Columbus nor Winston Churchill. APEH, according to the report, points the arrow of European history toward a well-governed, secular welfare state, whose interchangeable subjects possess neither national particularity nor faith nor freedom.
The Disappearing Continent’s findings include:
- APEH presents the history of government rather than of liberty.
- APEH presents religion throughout as an instrument of power rather than as an autonomous sphere of European history.
- APEH treats the movement to abolish slavery without mentioning how it was inspired by religious faith.
- APEH underplays British history throughout, thus minimizing the importance of Britain’s distinctive history in the European tradition as the champion of liberty.
- APEH minimizes and extenuates the evils of Communism, the brutal destructiveness of Soviet rule, and the aggressiveness of Soviet foreign policy.
- APEH virtually ignores Europe’s unique development of the architecture of modern knowledge, which made possible almost every modern form of intellectual inquiry.
- APEH doesn’t argue that European history is important or interesting in itself. APEH never gives a reason why students should study Europe’s history in particular.
- APEH never mentions that Americans should study Europe’s past because it is our history.
NAS director of communications David Randall, the author of the report, said, “The College Board’s progressive distortion of European history powerfully resembles the bias in its 2014 Advanced Placement United States History examination (APUSH). The College Board’s persistent progressive bias substantiates concerns that the 2015 APUSH revisions do not represent a genuine change of direction.”
The Disappearing Continent recommends that the College Board revise APEH to portray Europe’s exceptional history more accurately. Its recommendations include:
- The College Board should justify the study of European history as the study of Americans’ history—the origin of our founding settlers, our government, our society, and our ideals.
- The College Board should justify the study of European history because of its intrinsic interest.
- The College Board should add an examination on Classical and Medieval European history up to c. 1450.
- The College Board should restore the importance of contingency, culture, politics, and historical individuals, and reduce the importance of inevitability, society, and economics.
- The College Board should live up to its ideals and incorporate diverse historiographies.
- The College Board should place the history of religion (including histories of Orthodoxy, Islam, and Judaism), the history of liberty, and the history of Britain at the heart of APEH.
- The College Board should also place the emergence of the theory and practice of freemarket economic liberty at the heart of APEH.
- The College Board should accompany changes to APEH with parallel changes in all APEH materials, including textbooks, instructional materials, and teacher training.
Since Americans should not rely on the College Board, or any one organization, to make these changes, NAS makes one final recommendation: Americans should restore choice and accountability to secondary education in America by developing competitive alternatives to the College Board’s AP testing program.
Read the National Association of Scholar’s report below: