Oklahoma Superintendent Weighs In On Proposed AP History Bill

Thursday, February 19th 2015, 12:41 am
By: News On 6

Oklahoma is in the national spotlight as our state legislature is being criticized for considering a new bill that would cut AP History class.

Lawmakers say the current curriculum doesn't teach about American exceptionalism and that the new bill would.

Oklahoma State Superintendent, Joy Hofmeister weighed in about the future of advanced placement Wednesday night; she said she wants to make sure students have the option to take AP classes, including history.

Jan McClaren is a 30 year veteran history teacher who specializes in the life of President George Washington. She said she's concerned about House Bill 1380.

"If we just sugar coat it and say everything is great, we're doing a disservice to our country and to our students," she said.

The bill comes from lawmakers who say they're dissatisfied with the current curriculum and say that it doesn't teach enough of the good things about American history.

2/18/2015 Related Story: Oklahoma Teacher Wonders If Legislature Understands History, Education

Hofmeister said she, just like McClaren, has some questions about the bill.

“I have some concerns on how to accomplish what was required in that bill by the state department. Part of that would be to write a new set of standards for that advanced history," she said.

New standards that are expensive and complicated to rewrite; a task the state is already taking on with Math and English.

Resulting in bad timing, especially as the Department of Education tackles a teacher shortage in the state - the topic of Hofmeister's discussion with local young professionals Wednesday night.

But she said she's working with lawmakers.

“I've had a chance to meet and talk over the phone with the author and share some of the questions and concerns that I do have," Hofmeister said.

Questions and concerns that, she said, the author, Yukon Republican Representative Dan Fisher is willing to work through; especially, with students' future scholarship opportunities on the line - more than a million dollars' worth.

"We need to look at giving choice to parents and choice to local school districts," Hofmeister said.

A consideration McClaren hopes lawmakers understand as it works at her level, in the classroom trenches.

"I want students to be able to think for themselves. What an education if all our students could think for themselves," she said.

If this proposal passes, other AP courses offered in Oklahoma could also come under scrutiny.