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Update on AP US History Packet

by on September 30, 2016

Regular followers of my blog know that on Fridays I usually post a weekly recap of bookish things, including sales information, new releases, and the most popular post from my Facebook page or Twitter feed. This week…has been a little different. Fans will find that information in another post to follow later today, because I want to keep my book promotion separate from this issue.

A quick recap for regular blog readers who have no idea what I’m talking about. Wednesday evening I posted a series of Tweets about a 55-page packet my daughter’s AP American History teacher sent home with the students. The response to my Tweets has been powerful. Thank you, everyone, for all of your support. I also must thank my friend, another AP US History mom, who brought the contents of the packet to my attention. I’m not including her name to protect the privacy of her daughter, but I’m very grateful to her for making sure this wasn’t ignored.

A few clarifications and one correction, based on questions I’ve seen in my Twitter mentions.

  • The text I posted was copied from a 55-page packet called US History Special Victims Unit, not a textbook.
  • Students were given the packet at the beginning of the school year and told it was meant to supplement the textbook and was information that could be on the AP exam.
  • The students hadn’t yet been given any assignments based on the material presented in the packet.
  • There are no citations anywhere in the 55-page packet.
  • I do not know who the author of the packet is.
  • The information isn’t presented as discussion points for consideration. It is presented as a summary of US History.
  • The note at the end of 3rd excerpt I posted on Twitter appears to have been written by the teacher.
  • In one of my Tweets I stated he taught my daughter’s AP World History class last year. I was incorrect, he taught her AP European History class. My apologies to her 9th grade AP World History teacher.
  • My daughter attends a public school in Washington state.
  • Much of the information in the packet is basic historic facts (without any citations). The biased parts tend to be in the recent history sections.
  • I will not release the entire document.

Friends have forwarded links to news articles about this. I want to be clear that I haven’t granted any interviews. News articles that appear to be interviews simply broke apart my tweets. One misquoted me, stating that I described the packet as a “non-white male hit list.” I did not say that. Here is the text of my Tweet: “Daughter’s AP American History teacher sent home 55 page packet called “US History Special Victims Unit” (non-white male hist) that is vile.” I abbreviated the word history to hist because it was Twitter and I was out of characters.

The College Board has contacted me, and I have put them in touch with the principal.

I have refrained from naming the school district and school, because I want to give the principal and school district the opportunity to deal with the situation. They are aware that my Tweets went viral and that I’ve received several request for interviews.

This morning another parent and I met with the principal. This is what we learned.

  • The packet was never submitted for approval to be distributed to students as supplemental material.
  • Today the packet was recalled. It is likely that most of the students hadn’t read any portion of it yet (as mentioned above, no assignments had been given).
  • The teacher has apologized to the students and acknowledged the material was unacceptably biased.
  • The principal will be monitoring all materials distributed by the teacher.
  • The principal sent a notice to all teachers last week with a reminder to keep politics out of classroom discussion and materials, except when being used as a lesson in critical thinking/presenting multiple sides.
  • The school district is aware of the contents of the packet. They will be monitoring the situation and the teacher.

It is my hope that the school district will make a statement at some point. Please know they are monitoring the teacher. I have great confidence the principal, school district, and College Board can and will handle the situation and take appropriate action.

My personal goal here is to ensure that all students enrolled in AP US History – or ANY history class – get a solid, unbiased education. Before I became an author, I was an archaeologist, so it should come as no surprise to anyone that history is one of my passions. I am a firm believer that we need to know our history to understand our present and to make the decisions that shape our future. As the principal said to me today, “There is a reason history is a core subject.”

To other parents, I ask that you take the time to review supplemental material teachers send home. It never occurred to me that I needed to do this until this week. Kudos to the student who brought this to her mother’s attention. She showed great critical thinking in recognizing the bias in the materials.

Again, I want to thank everyone for the amazing support. I will continue to update on Twitter if the need arises.

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