APUSH Teachers Speak

Ashley Thorne

Two teachers of high school AP U.S. History (APUSH) have gone public to share their dissatisfaction with the current version of the College Board’s APUSH framework. Independent scholar Stanley Kurtz interviewed and quoted them in two articles on National Review Online.

One of these is Elizabeth Altham, “a prize-winning AP U.S. and AP European history teacher at a classical Catholic preparatory academy.”

Altham said that the College Board’s revised APUSH is guilty of “minimization, if not the outright ignoring, of the characters and decisions of great men.” 

She continued:

Today, the notion has entered the water supply that the characters and decisions of individuals do not matter; too many of our young consider debunking a marker for intelligence and sophistication. The notion underlying that notion is even more pernicious: that individuals are not responsible for outcomes, either as a matter of simple causation or as a matter of ethics. I see these two notions embodied in the College Board’s emphasis on processes and groups (classes, races, genders).

The other teacher is Marc Anderson, who teaches at a public high school in central Pennsylvania.

Kurtz wrote of him:

At school, Anderson has formed a partnership with a more liberal AP Literature teacher. This allows his students to read Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle in English class when they study the Progressive Era in APUSH, and The Grapes of Wrath while Anderson is teaching the Depression. Students cover the same material in two classes, but with different methods and from different perspectives, with everyone benefitting from the contrast.

Anderson told Kurtz that the 2014 version of APUSH made it increasingly difficult for him to teach U.S. history in an honest way, and that the 2015 changes to the course were merely superficial.

NAS welcomes additional AP history teachers to weigh in. How does the current framework for the APUSH course support or clash with your approach to teaching? If you are interested in writing something or submitting comments for quotation, please email us at [email protected].

Image: "AP U.S. History" by Amit BursteinCC BY

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