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After Backlash And Outcry, Oklahoma Lawmaker Plans To Rework AP U.S. History Bill

Brian Hardzinski

State Rep. Dan Fisher says he plans to rework his bill that targets state funding for Advanced Placement U.S. history courses after a barrage of criticism and nationwide criticism.

Fisher told The Oklahoman Wednesday his bill wasn't written well initially.

“We’re trying to fix the bill,” Fisher said. “It was very poorly worded and was incredibly ambiguous, and we didn’t realize that, so it’s been misinterpreted. We’re going to clear it up so folks will know exactly what we’re trying to accomplish, and it’s not to hurt AP. We’re very supportive of the AP program.” . . . The original measure, House Bill 1380, was approved earlier this week in a party-line vote of the House Education Committee and sent to the full House. It ordered the board to adopt a new program and test to replace the current AP U.S. history program and test offered by the College Board, a not-for-profit organization that developed the new course framework.

In a story Wednesday afternoon by KOSU’s Rachel Hubbard on NPRs All Things Considered, Fisher said he welcomes debate on the issue.

“To mischaracterize it as an attempt to do away with the AP program, and we want to jerk the funding, it’s just not honest,” Fisher said.

During an event in Tulsa Wednesday, state Superintendent Joy Hofmeister said she'd spoken with Fisher about his bill. The Tulsa World reports Hofmeister told the crowd at the Philbrook Museum of Art that as a Republican, she wants to respect parent choices and what school districts or communities want to teach.

But she also said American history includes events and issues that aren't pleasant to read about, and all that needs to be included.

Hofmeister said Fisher was listening to the backlash from students, teachers and parents and told her he was “willing to go back to the drawing board.” . . . She added, “We are going to support legislators who want to be sensitive to the concerns of their constituents. It is not something that author intended — to have any form of attack on AP.”

In Wednesday's NPR story, Edmond Memorial High School history teacher Christine Custred agreed with that assessment.

“Most places in the world, you’ll be hauled off by some sort of Gestapo if you criticize the country, and/or the government,” Custred said. “And that is exceptional that we can do that.”

House Floor Leader Jason Nelson says the new legislation won't call for an end to AP U.S. History, but will ask the state Board of Education to conduct a review.

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Brian Hardzinski is from Flower Mound, Texas and a graduate of the University of Oklahoma. He began his career at KGOU as a student intern, joining KGOU full time in 2009 as Operations and Public Service Announcement Director. He began regularly hosting Morning Edition in 2014, and became the station's first Digital News Editor in 2015-16. Brian’s work at KGOU has been honored by Public Radio News Directors Incorporated (PRNDI), the Oklahoma Association of Broadcasters, the Oklahoma Associated Press Broadcasters, and local and regional chapters of the Society of Professional Journalists. Brian enjoys competing in triathlons, distance running, playing tennis, and entertaining his rambunctious Boston Terrier, Bucky.
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