Oklahoma Teacher Wonders If Legislature Understands History, Education

Wednesday, February 18th 2015, 6:24 pm

Oklahoma's lawmakers are being criticized across the country for considering eliminating Advanced Placement History courses in public schools.

The idea came out of claims the course doesn't teach enough of the good things about America.

The bill would replace the current course with a new curriculum, designed in part by lawmakers.

Read House Bill 1380

While there's a debate in the legislature over the content of AP History courses, one of the state's top teachers in the subject believes it's lawmakers who are getting bad information.

In the unexpected debate over AP History, Jan McClaren's voice deserves to be heard. She's a respected and honored history teacher who specializes in the life of George Washington.

She's beginning to wonder if the legislature understands history or education.

"And I wonder if they're just not understanding that we're trying to create good students and people who think at higher levels," she said.

McClaren said with 30 years' experience, AP History is one of the finest courses she's found.

College Board Responds To House Bill 1380

She said there's nothing in the textbook - the framework for teaching the class - that's anything other than the truth.

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

Students take the AP courses to gain college credit during high school. It creates scholarship opportunities, estimated at $1 million a year for Oklahoma students.

Senior Andrew Noland finished the class, scored high on the test and said the course is all about how America became what it is.

“That's what American history is about. It's about how we go from point A to here, today, and I don't think it teaches us that we're worse off; it's just what we did to become the lone superpower of the world,” he said.

College Board Website

AP History Student, Sam Macken said, “It compares America to other countries in the sense that all of these countries have made mistakes, and so has America, but we've rebounded from that and we're a better country for doing so.”

McClaren said no one in the legislature has asked for her input but she's confident her students learn more than just the past in AP history.

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

Whatever the legislature does - if they do anything with the bill - it wouldn't affect AP classes until next year.

2/18/2015 Related Story: OK Lawmakers Target Advanced Placement History Courses

It's creating uncertainty among teachers and students, and generating ridicule for the legislature for even considering dropping the class.