Thursday, February 19, 2015

Oklahoma, the APUSH Redesign & A Lesson in Government

I do have some biases here as I am on the College Board's 7-12th Grade Advisory Panel for Social Studies and have graded AP exams for the past fifteen years.  But certainly the roll out for APUSH History has not been as smooth as it should have been (hey changing the time length on a FRQ fewer than nine months before the AP exam is really inexcusable).  But too many groups have been taking pot shots at the changes for political gain.  In the case of Oklahoma, all of their students will be at a disadvantage when applying to national universities when compared to those in the other 49 states if the course is eliminated and parents aren't going to stand on the sidelines and let this go away - especially parents of kids taking AP classes.  So (perhaps optimistically) I am not convinced the bill will make it through as it stands right now.   To see what I mean let's use this as an exercise in government as well.
  1. The bill, HB 1380, has only passed a committee - albeit on party lines in a conservative state (11 Republicans, 4 Democrats).   Although normally a bill that goes through committee with unanimous support of the state's dominant party almost always becomes law.  But...
  2. It still has to pass the OK Senate and get the governor to sign it.  With only seven Democrats on the Senate side, it is logical to think it can get out of both houses and to the governor. 
  3. BUT even if the above happens, if you look at HB 1380, it requires an alternative course to be in place by this coming fall which most curriculum specialists would tell you is all but impossible.  It also mandates that $3 million be set aside for the endeavor.  Compared to the state budget in OK of $6 billion, that is chump change, but not when considered next to the other needs of the state.   The $3 million also does not include the cost of purchasing new textbooks which schools purchase no fewer than every six years.   To get the funding the bill also has to go through the Appropriations Committees (Senate and House) and this is where it is likely to run into problems. 
  4. As someone who has worked in the VA legislature (and years ago ran for the VA General Assembly) my sense is that this bill will be amended in conference committee - if it gets out of the Senate - to call for a recommendation for not teaching AP US, but leaving it up to the localities to decide and come up with the money - which wouldn't happen.  In other words it will be a way to both attack the College Board as being un-American while allowing APUSH to continue in OK schools.  
  5. If you want to follow the bill's progress click on this link as it moves forward.

Another government lesson.  The College Board does lobby at the federal level and while I can't find it, you can be pretty sure Trevor Packer and his team are doing some lobbying of key Republicans in the OK Senate's Education committee to kill this bill over there or at least return it to a committee for "further study."

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