Education Failure: Oklahoma edition

Law, religion, and education in the United States tend to mix in the strangest ways. In the 1930s, there was the case of Tennessee v. Scopes (teaching evolution in science as opposed to creationism, outlined in the Butler Act, which eventually overturned in 1967); every law in the past ten years that have allowed businesses, doctors, and other professional organizations or persons to discriminate based on religious beliefs, and the recent slew of anti-abortion measures–the majority of which intersect with sex ed in the United States in one form or another.

The most current intersection of failure came less than a month ago from Oklahoma, of all places.  Oklahoma has some of the strangest laws on the books (few of which are enforced, due to the obscurity of the laws or the possibility of ridicule that would follow trying to actually prosecute breaches of those laws), and the actions of Representative Dan Fisher are no exception.

Representative Fisher is a Republican (most religiously-based laws in the United States come from the Republican party) and quite firm in his belief that ‘politically correct progressives’ are destroying America’s Christian heritage, which is completely against what the ‘Christian’ Founding Fathers wanted. This ignores the fact that the Founding Fathers were atheists, deists, or kept their noses out of the religious debate that they foresaw coming.

Representative Fisher’s latest blunder into things he probably hasn’t researched to the level of a tenth grade student in Advanced Placement US History (APUSH) is the bill that banned APUSH. The grounds for this bill is that the class violates recent changes to Common Core Standards (the standards were changed so that teachers had to ‘teach the test’ so that students could pass state assessment tests).

The unofficial reason, supported by statements made by Fisher and his friends in the Black Robed Regiment–most of whom haven’t set foot in a public school in decades–is that the course paints American history in an unfair light with few positive aspects and excludes what they believe is the true ‘Christian history’ of the United States.

For those who have not taken an APUSH course, it should be noted that APUSH covers American history from the arrival of Native Americans to the latest presidency.  The level of detail dedicated to each portion varies from instructor to instructor, although the course tends towards being a more comprehensive view of American history than what is offered in standard classes at the same grade level.  It is also one of the faster, cheaper ways to earn college credit or make an admissions form look better than the applicant’s competition.

The bill passed 11-4 in the Oklahoma House Education Committee on the sixteenth–less than a week ago–prompting massive outrage from students and parents.

A poll of 6627 students and parents in two cities in Oklahoma showed that 96 percent of them opposed efforts to ban APUSH.  It can be assumed that the other four percent abstained from answering or were supporters of Fisher’s meddling.

Thankfully, the backlash to the bill was so severe that, in the past week, Fisher has begun doing a backstroke that would make Olympic swimmers proud and is trying to distance himself from his bill in any way possible.

With luck, it will not pass the Oklahoma Senate and will not be implemented, saving future generations from having to read the Ten Commandments, Reagan’s speeches, and two sermons instead of learning the full breadth and depth of true American history.