Dear Mr. Packer and College Board:
I’ve been teaching APWH since 2008. My school is comprised of +50% free and reduced lunch and +70% minority students. We are a diverse group, representative of the world we live in.
I’m against the proposed change of APWH for the 2019-20 school year for many reasons - mostly the following:
Why 1450? This makes the LEAST sense to me. CB has touted that they're all about equity and increasing access to AP for students of diverse backgrounds, but now you're cutting OUT those diverse backgrounds from the curriculum? One of my students said it best last week. "They're basically telling me that my culture doesn't matter until Europeans started to take over. So I only matter when Europeans take notice of me?"
This is abhorrent. Starting with the rise of the west devalues the achievements of non-western societies. Period 3 gave us a chance to prove that people of color ruled huge, powerful, wealthy empires. Every student of every ethnicity needs to know that people who looked like them were WINNERS too.
This is especially puzzling to me as one of the qualifiers for the APWH Audit is to prove that your course doesn't pay more attention to Europe than other areas of the world. I don't know how teachers will be able to teach this course as proposed without constantly talking about Europeans.
The College Board says they respect diversity but apparently not enough to use the curriculum itself to encourage the growth of that respect in the students they serve. The students in these classes are the leaders of tomorrow- what kind of tomorrow do you want to see?
You're all about the money, aren't you? Perhaps I can offer you some insight. I teach in one of the largest public HS districts in the state of Illinois. Compared to many others in our country, we are BLESSED with the amount of funding and resources we have available. Two of the schools in my district (including mine) are ranked in the top 95% of high schools in the country.
That being said, our school district is facing cuts just like every other district in the USA. Our administration had to cut one or more teachers from every department ahead of next school year. Our district already had a stringent 6-year adoption cycle for textbooks that they're pushing to an 8-year cycle to save more money. We can't afford TEXTBOOKS.
I tried to explain to my administration about the new Pre-AP course you're offing. I tried to explain the benefit to our students of exposure to more skills and history, etc. They pretty much laughed at me. In the state of Illinois, there is a civics requirement to graduate. Right now, we have freshmen students take APHG - this fulfills the civics graduation requirement. Then they hop directly into APWH sophomore year. My district administration plainly told me that the new course
A) is too expensive for them,
B) doesn't fulfill any graduation requirement, and
C) they don't have the money for more teachers or textbooks to offer Pre-AP as an elective especially when
D) students don't get AP credit for passing a Pre-AP course.
CB's obviously out for more money and there is no money to be had. You are a for-profit organization and not a for-student organization. Shame.
School Districts and teachers aren't able to make changes very easily. Our schedule for next year was set as of April 1, 2017. There is little room for change. Any new course offered in our district has to be approved by our school board at least 2 years in advance. There needs to be a textbook committee created to evaluate options. There is PD to be scheduled, teachers to be selected, students to be recruited. This all takes TIME. One year notice for these kind of changes isn't enough.
Given the track record of the CB, I'm not very optimistic that we will get more than 2 months notice of the new Course Outline, Key Concepts, etc. You roll out new rubrics the first week of classes in August. You make changes to the wording of essays in November. Your modules are released three weeks after I teach a time period... Good teachers take time to thoughtfully plan out their courses, their lessons, their assessments. It's impossible to teach this course well, simply because of all the change! Imagine how well students could perform on the AP test if their teachers were given enough time to adequately prepare.
I truly hope the College Board will rethink the most recent re-design of APWH and keep Period 3. This class has been a force for good, teaching students to respect other cultures and religions, to consider multiple viewpoints. A truly global course teaches students that there are MANY ways of understanding the world, and that’s glorious. Our students need that now more than ever.
I hope the College Board will not turn its back on these students.
Mrs. Amanda Bhansali
AP World History Teacher
Literacy Lab Coordinator