AP History Recall Campaign

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  1. Avatar Oscar Gordon
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    About my only concern with regard to recalls is we probably set the bar to initiate one poorly. Which is understandably a tough bar to set; too high & you hit a “why bother” point since only the moneyed efforts can hope to bring one; too low & you can end up wasting time & resources dealing with spurious recalls instead of governing.Report

  2. Avatar Michelle
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    says:

    I tend to agree with you about recalls but, in this case, I’d make an exception. From what I’ve read about the Colorado AP history case, the board members in question were generally pushing for American history as hagiography, angry that AP history presented the country’s past in a far too negative light.

    I’m glad to see citizens taking action here. From what you’ve written, a recall seems to be their only major recourse. Good for them.Report

    • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to Michelle
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      says:

      @michelle

      I got to give credit to right-wing politicians for their chutzpah. They always have liberals in the corner with accusations of liberal bias in teaching but they have no problems putting their own biases in when in control.

      Maybe we should call them on their bluff?Report

    • Avatar Michael Cain in reply to Michelle
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      says:

      It’s possible that a court case could have forced the board (or shamed them) into guaranteeing an AP US History class taught to the College Board’s spec. CB notified the district that a US History class taught with the board’s proposed changes could not be billed as “AP”. Any class taught to the board’s changes would fail to perform the function of the AP class: improve the chances of scoring high enough on the AP exam to get college credits, and possibly improved admission consideration. I can think of a couple of legal theories that a court might agree with.Report

      • Avatar gingergene in reply to Michael Cain
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        says:

        And to clarify, any student may take any AP test they feel like (provided they can pay for it, and can get to a location where it is offered). It is not necessary to have taken an “AP” class; it’s just that those classes are focused on teaching to the AP test, so students would be better prepared (theoretically, anyway).Report

        • Avatar Morat20 in reply to gingergene
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          says:

          it’s just that those classes are focused on teaching to the AP test, so students would be better prepare

          A better phrasing would be “these classes follow the AP curriculum”.

          “teaching to the test” has an entirely different connotation these days.

          AP classes attempt to cover the material on the AP exam in addition to the material required for that grade by the state.

          For instance, in AP Calculus we…studied more Calculus than was required for the regular Calculus class. Same with AP Mechanics and AP Chemistry.

          Even AP composition was geared towards pushing juniors or seniors to write with acceptable skill for college freshmen.

          Testing methodology and the like weren’t covered. A mock AP exam was offered in some classes, but just one. What made an AP class “AP” was the extra material, above and beyond the state standards. (The material needed to cover the college-level class, in fact).Report

          • Avatar gingergene in reply to Morat20
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            says:

            I had both kinds of AP classes. My AP History class was explicitly taught to the AP test, so much so that the class ended after we took the test- we had 2-3 weeks of “history-themed” movies after that. (With a very loose interpretation of “history-themed”: my class watched Dr. Strangelove and Far and Away, among others.)

            My AP calculus class, on the other hand, sounds closer to what you described; we learned calculus in a pretty standard order, at a pretty standard pace, in a manner that enabled most of us to do pretty well on the AP test, but was probably only minimally influenced by the test itself. It was very similar to first year Calc at my eventual university.

            AP English was somewhere in between, but the class we took the most practice tests in. Chemistry was similar. I did hear that there was some competition and posturing that went on in the faculty lounge regarding whose classes performed the best on the test, so that may have something to do with some classes emphasizing the test more than others.

            Anyhoo, my point was simply that it isn’t required to take a class with an “AP” designation in order to take an AP test. All you need is some $$ and nothing better to do with 2-3 hours on a Saturday.Report

            • Avatar Morat20 in reply to gingergene
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              says:

              True. My AP history class was a bit similar — no high school history class tracked the AP curriculum closely enough to simply ‘expand’ (basically cover more material to a greater depth, as in a college class) mostly because, I suspect, Texas has some weird history requirements at the High School level.

              Instead, during the year labeled ‘World History’ we were given supplementary materials and instruction. Quite a bit of it. I believe the class itself went more in depth into European history than the regular World History classes did to begin with, but it wasn’t sufficient for the AP test. (Which was, IIRC the credit I got, about European history…I think. It’s been a long time!).

              But the district I went to (and my wife now works for) doesn’t tolerate that sort of shenanigan. Admittedly, they all bow to reality (you can’t get work out of seniors after mid-May if they’re exempt from finals, and you can’t get work out of anyone after finals or mid-terms), but if there’s three weeks of school left you’re learning.

              It might be lighter lessons with more of an emphasis on enjoyment, but they’re not going to waste 15 days of instruction just because the AP tests are over.Report

        • Avatar Michael Cain in reply to gingergene
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          says:

          Yes, I should have been clearer about those things, thanks for putting that in here. In Colorado, the state administers a program for low-income students that reduces the total fee (last year, from the list $91 per exam to $12 per exam).Report

          • Avatar gingergene in reply to Michael Cain
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            says:

            Are there any academic requirements for the subsidy? Or limits? Or can a student get as many of them subsidized as s/he chooses?

            I do remember my parents flinching at the cost of all my AP tests, although in my case it was worth every penny.Report

  3. Avatar Patrick
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    says:

    I also am not a fan of recall elections, but sometimes this is apropos:

    “I say you take off and nuke the entire site from orbit. It’s the only way to be sure.”
    — RipleyReport

  4. Avatar Damon
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    says:

    I’m a big fan of recalls. Politicians know that if they piss off voters and there is no recall option, it’s a long way to the next election. Lots can happen between than, if only voter forgetfulness/dulling of the outrage.

    Additionally, it’s a nice timely feedback system. Even if you fail in the recall, it serves as cautionary reminder to the politician not to go too far.Report

  5. Avatar Roland Dodds
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    says:

    Good piece Michael. It just so happens that my old superintendent here in California spent years as the superintendent at this Colorado district. He left due to the more glaring conservative expectations you noted above.

    I also agree that recalls are a rather imperfect and problematic way of making change in this regard, but I will be interested to hear how you eventually decide to cast your vote.Report

  6. Avatar Michael Cain
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    says:

    Correction: Signature collection has to be completed by early September, not October.

    Update: In a story published by the Colorado Statesman this afternoon, representatives of the petition campaign said things are going so well they expect to have the necessary signatures in hand by the end of this weekend.Report

  7. Avatar Michael Cain
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    says:

    Update: The recall campaign turned in its petitions this morning. They had more than twice as many signatures as required, although some of those will certainly be disqualified. Yesterday they had a table set up outside the grocery, and there was a line of people waiting to sign. 27 years in Colorado and I’ve never seen that before.Report

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