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Bell, Gresham Call on TN Board of Ed to Review New AP U.S. History Courses for ‘Negative’ Revisionism

Press release from the Tennessee Senate Republican Caucus; August 26, 2014:

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Senate Education Committee Chairman Dolores Gresham (R-Somerville) and Senate Government Operations Committee Chairman Mike Bell (R-Riceville) have called on the Tennessee State Board of Education to conduct a review of the new framework and materials used in all Advanced Placement U.S. History (APUSH) courses taught in Tennessee classrooms. The request was made by the lawmakers in a letter to Board Chairman Fielding Rolston and comes after widespread criticism that the new College Board framework for APUSH reflects revisionist views of American history that emphasizes negative aspects, while omitting or minimizing the positive.

Advanced Placement courses are college-level classes that students can take while still in high school. Most colleges and universities in the United States grant credit and placement for qualifying scores. The exams are produced by the College Board, a private company, which also is responsible for the SAT college admission test.

“There are many concerns with the new APUSH framework, not the least of which is that it pushes a revisionist interpretation of historical facts,” said Chairman Gresham. “The items listed as required knowledge have some inclusions which are agenda-driven, while leaving out basic facts that are very important to our nation’s history. We need a full review of the framework by our Board as to its effects on Tennessee students and our state standards. We have also asked the Board to provide a forum in which parents and other concerned citizens can let their voices be heard on the matter.”

Tennessee law specifies students in the state must be taught foundational documents in U.S. and Tennessee history. It also provides that instructional materials, specifically in U.S. history, comply with this state mandate.

The APUSH framework includes little or no discussion of the founding fathers and the principles of the Declaration of Independence, and other critical topics which had previously been included in the course. It presents a negative interpretation regarding the motivations and actions of 17th – 19th century settlers, American involvement in World War II, and the development of and victory in the Cold War.

In addition, the APUSH framework excludes discussion of the U.S. military, battles, commanders, and heroes, as well as mentioning many other individuals and events that shaped history like the Holocaust and American icons Albert Einstein, Jonas Salk, George Washington Carver, and Dr. Martin Luther King.

“The APUSH framework appears to differ greatly from Tennessee’s U.S. history standards,” added Chairman Bell. “This interferes with our state law and standards for U.S. history if our teachers focus on preparing their pupils for the AP examination, which is a very important test for college-bound students. We have worked very hard over the past several years to ensure that our students are learning history based on facts, rather than a politically-biased point of view.”

Approximately 500,000 students across the nation take Advanced Placement courses in U.S. History each year. Tennessee has worked diligently over the past several years to push students to take Advanced Placement exams as part of the effort to increase the number of citizens with post-secondary degrees.

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Education NewsTracker

Casada Looks Forward to Quizzing Textbook Commission

Rep. Glen Casada says he has a lot of questions for the State Textbook Commission due to what he calls “biased” material in the social studies books currently being used by Tennessee schoolchildren.

The Joint Subcommittee of Government Operations is scheduled to meet Wednesday with and review the governor-appointed panel and decide whether it should continue to exist, or whether reforms of some sort are warranted. Casada, the House GOP caucus chairman, said the discussion should prove interesting.

“The chairman of the committee, Sen. Mike Bell, is going to allow parents from across the state to give testimony as to the bias they see in their textbooks in their home counties,” said Casada. Bell is a Republican from Riceville.

Casada, who serves with Bell on the committee, said he doesn’t at this point have any preconceived ideas about what should happen after the meeting. He said he’s “just curious as to what the Textbook Commission is going to say,” that he’s hoping for answers to “allegations” that some textbooks public schools are using in Tennessee are ideologically prejudiced against capitalism and Western Culture.

Casada said he has reviewed two social studies textbooks and both “put in bad light the free-market system.”

“There are dozens, and I mean literally dozens, of examples of bias,” he said. “For example, there’s a question that’s just stated as a fact that capitalism is one of the causes of poverty. Well, that’s insane. Capitalism is what gets us out of poverty. It’s socialism that puts us in poverty. Yet no where in this textbook is that example given.”

Additionally, Casada takes issue with the books’ depiction of “foreign despots,” such as Mao Tse Tung. Casada said the communist dictator “is uplifted as a man who brought education and health care to his people in China.”

“But nowhere in that page when they talk about the Cultural Revolution do they mention the millions of people he killed,” said Casada.

Tennessee law requires representatives from most state agencies to appear before the Legislature periodically to justify their work and why the agency or commission is still needed. Casada said he finds selection of the textbook commission unusual because, unlike with other boards and commissions, there’s no involvement of the Legislature.

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Press Releases

Cobb Wants More Time to Review TWRA Commission

Press Release from Rep. Jim Cobb, R-Spring City; May 11, 2011:

Rep. Cobb Sets the Record Straight About the Future of the TWRA Commission

(May 11, 2011, NASHVILLE) – At a meeting of the Government Operations Committee today, Representative Jim Cobb (R—Spring City) announced his plans for the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Commission Reauthorization legislation. Rep. Cobb serves as Chairman of the Committee.

“Right now, I believe it is best to move this legislation until 2012 to give the General Assembly more time to examine the role the Commission plays in the overall function of the TWRA. The fact is, the TWRA Commission has been slow to respond to constituents and answer questions regarding the activities of the agency,” stated Rep. Cobb.

He continued, “This move will have no effect on the agency itself. No one will lose their jobs and I expect the TWRA to continue functioning as normal. I am actually pleased with the good work that is being done by our wildlife officers throughout the State. Unfortunately, the Commission responsible for managing the affairs of the agency has been hard to reach, obstinate in their views, and uncooperative in their actions. That must change.”

Representative Frank Nicely (R—Knoxville), who chairs the House Agriculture Committee, echoed the sentiments by Rep. Cobb and remarked, “The TWRA Commission knows full well we must have their cooperation if we are to move forward proactively discussing the issues facing the resources of Tennessee. I applaud Chairman Cobb for slowing the process down so we have the attention of the Commission. While they will try and paint this as a move against the entire agency, they understand this is about the Commission and their inability to competently carry out their duties.”

Rep. Cobb has authored legislation to extend the TWRA Commission. It may be viewed here.

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Business and Economy Education Environment and Natural Resources News

Guv Appoints 100 New Members to State Boards, Commissions

With less than two months before stepping down as the state’s chief executive officer, Gov. Phil Bredesen appointed 100 people to state boards and commissions, leaving a lasting fingerprint on the makeup of many of the state’s occupational governing bodies and policy advisory committees.

Bredesen, a Democrat, will be termed out of office on Jan. 15, 2011. He will be replaced by Republican Bill Haslam, who is just finishing up his second term as mayor of Knoxville.

One of a governor’s duties is to appoint individuals to more than 150 state boards and commissions, ranging from the Board of Athletic Directors and the Drycleaner Environmental Response Board to the Homeland Security Council and the state Ethics Commission.

“Gov. Bredesen has always taken these appointments very seriously and filling vacancies enables boards and commissions to continue their work and service to (the) state,” said a spokeswoman.

Bredesen’s appointments are sending people to sit on 34 different boards and commissions, many of which have not met for several months, according to a TNReport review of the state’s online calendar.

Haslam isn’t particularly bothered that board and commission slots were filled before he had a chance to make appointments himself. “There’s only one governor at a time,” said David Smith, a spokesman for the governor-elect. Bredesen is just doing his job, he added.

It’s too early to tell whether Bredesen’s new appointees — whose opinions and priorities  may differ from those of the new administration — will in any way hamper or cause problems for the new administration, says former state Rep. Susan Lynn, who chaired the Government Operations Committee that reviewed occupational and professional board renewal requests. Lynn has herself been mentioned as a prospect to join the new administration in some capacity.

“It’s just hard to say,” she said. “It’s an enormous job to find people who are qualified to serve on these boards.”

“These positions come open all the time,” she added.

Appointment terms vary based on statutory recommendations or term limits specified by geographic or other qualifications. The governor’s appointments are as follows:

Barber Board of Examiners

Ralph S. Payne, Springville

Board for Licensing Alarm Systems Contractors

Karen Denise Jones, Limestone

McKenzie C. “Ken” Roberts, McMinnville

Board for Licensing Contractors

Cindi Gresham DeBusk, Knoxville

William E. Mason, Greenbrier

Board of Athletic Trainers

Monroe J. Abram, Antioch

Joseph T. Erdeljac, Cookeville

Walter S. Fitzpatrick, III, Cookeville

Cliff E. Pawley, Humboldt

Kurt P. Spindler, Franklin

Board of Funeral Directors and Embalmers

W.T. Patterson, Camden

Commission on Firefighting Personnel Standards and Education

Mark J. Finucane, Johnson City

Drycleaner Environmental Response Board

Cullen Earnest, Nashville

Education Commission of the States

Bruce Opie, Nashville

Patrick Smith, Ashland City

Energy Efficient Schools Council

Carolyn P. Bowers, Clarksville

Goodwyn Institute

Suki Carson, Memphis

Governor’s Advisory Committee on Equal and Fair Employment Opportunity

Jacky Akbari, Franklin

Governor’s Citizens Corps Advisory Committee

Faye G. Morse, Liberty

Michael F. Nesbitt, Carthage

Joseph C. “Joe” Palmer, Cottontown

Homeland Security Council

William L. “Bill” Brown, Greeneville

Keep Tennessee Beautiful Advisory Council

Virginia “Happy” Birdsong, Madison

Marjorie J. “Marge” Davis, Mount Juliet

Sandra S. Ennis, Tullahoma

Jack O. Horner, Talbott

Land Between the Lakes Advisory Board

Steven E. “Steve” Elkins, Nashville

Polysomnography Professional Standards Committee

Bryan P. Hughes, Woodbury

Roxanne M. Valentino, Hendersonville

State Textbook Commission

Lois E. Coles, Brentwood

Robert W. Greene, Decatur

Donald Lanier Hopper, Middleton

Brian K. Tate, Church Hill

Robert M. Stidham, Church Hill

Edith G. Williams, Stanton

Statewide Independent Living Council

Robert L. Leonard, McKenzie

Anthony D. Sledge, Memphis

Tennessee Community Services Agency Board of Directors

Joe D. Barlow, Gainesboro

Lisa R. Bell, Camden

Peggy Collins, Lewisburg

Terry E. Crutcher, Dover

Pamela W. Edgemon, Cleveland

Kathleen J. Garrison, Spring City

Billy Joe Glover, Selmer

Pamela J. Harris, Jonesborough

John A. Hewgley, South Pittsburg

Regina L. Mason, Livingston

John R. Prince, Trenton

Ronald W. Shirey, Jr., Lynnville

Peggy K. Smotherman, Clifton

Martha Beaty Wiley, Allardt

Linda F. Williams, Fayetteville

Tennessee Council for Interstate Adult Offender Supervision

Stephen G. Young, Nashville

Tennessee Council on Developmental Disabilities

Norris L. Branick, Jackson

Tina Ann Burcham, Counce

Alexander N. Santana, Antioch

Steven Z. Sheegog, Memphis

Joyce Elaine Sievers, Smithville

Tennessee Duck River Development Agency

William Lee Brown, Manchester

Eslick E. Daniel, Williamsport

Robert S. Finney, Shelbyville

Olen Lee Morrison, Lewisburg

Paul Myatt, Bon Aqua

Thomas H. Peebles, Nashville

Betty Superstein, Manchester

Barbara A. Woods, Lewisburg

Tennessee Ethics Commission

Frank E. Barnett, Knoxville

Tennessee Higher Education Commission

Jon M. Kinsey, Chattanooga

Tennessee Historical Commission

John Charles Trotter, Knoxville

Tennessee Historical Records Advisory Board

Jami C. Awalt, Nashville

Rebecca Conard, Murfreesboro

Jackie L. Glenn, Maryville

Jill Kay Hastings-Johnson, Clarksville

Mary McCoy Helms, Chattanooga

Wayne C. Moore, Madison

Richard L. Saunders, Martin

Tennessee Housing Development Agency

Mary Chatman, Springfield

Tennessee Medical Laboratory Board

Kathleen M. Kenwright, Cordova

Jerry L. Miller, Kingsport

Thomas F. O’Brien, Jr., Munford

Tennessee Private Investigation & Polygraph Commission

Walter Valentine, Brentwood

Tennessee Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics Advisory Council

David Sevier, Murfreesboro

Belinda G. Watkins, Collierville

Tennessee Suicide Prevention Advisory Council

Nancy L. Badger, Chattanooga

Kathy A. Benedetto, Johnson City

Roberta “Renee” Brown, Memphis

Anna Lynn Shugart, Maryville

Jacqueline Anne Stamps, Algood

Shelia R. Ward, Jackson

Traumatic Brain Injury Advisory Council

Linda W. Copas, Nashville

Avis Easley, Antioch

Frank R. Meeuwis, Madison

Kathy Rouse, Morristown

Utility Management Review Board

Charlie C. Anderson, Kingsport

Volunteer Tennessee Commission

Laurel Leigh Creech, Nashville

Jonathan P. Farmer, Nashville

Carol L. Gaudino, Memphis

Julie C. Hembree, Knoxville

Emily Ann Jones, Knoxville

James H. Kilgore, Jr., Greeneville