Reject Senate Resolution 80, and all others which seek to tamper with College Board educational standards.
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Any society which has at its core the principles of freedom and equality must set out to preserve those ideals by protecting the rights of its members. Our constitution explicitly guarantees many individual liberties, such as equal protection under the law as well as the freedoms of speech, religion, and assembly. For a society thus established to maintain these principles, however, other rights not explicitly declared in the constitution must also be protected. First among these is the right to a thorough and impartial education, without which the preservation of a fair and free society is untenable. An education grounded in facts, critical analysis, and intellectual rigor is crucial for both the advancement of the individual and the development of society.
It is with this in mind that we respectfully protest the introduction of Senate Resolution 80 into the Georgia state senate. This resolution challenges the standards created by the College Board for the Advanced Placement United States History course. The resolution claims that the current course negatively misrepresents American history, thereby leading students to have a twisted view of the past. The resolution prescribes the removal of state funding from AP United States History as a solution to these complaints, and a subsequent replacement of Advanced Placement classes with state oriented equivalents.
The enactment of this resolution would have drastic implications for both individual students and for the entire educational system of Georgia. Firstly, the standards created by the College Board are designed specifically to deliver a college level education to high school students. Therefore, these standards are recognized as rigorous, thorough, and fair by the grand majority of higher educational institutions in the United States. To ignore these standards of higher learning which govern the majority of our nation is to relegate Georgia to a provincial level of educational practices and put its students at a disadvantage. A refusal to provide an AP level education is highly damaging to the students of the state, especially for those students who are limited to AP courses as their only source of advanced curriculum. Advanced Placement classes are a crucial component of education for those who wish to compete on a national level, with many advanced colleges viewing them as an essential prerequisite for admittance. Many of the highest achieving schools in the state are those that offer a multitude of AP classes. If these classes were to be regulated by state standards, then Georgia students would be left in the dust, and our highest achieving students would have fewer academic opportunities.
From an intellectual standpoint, one of the most disturbing qualities of the resolution is its aim to disguise the more disgraceful portions of United States history with a veneer of patriotism. If we fail to recognize those contemptible moments which have occurred in the history of the United States, and even more specifically those that have occurred in the state of Georgia, then it is impossible for us to gain any understanding of these events. A curriculum that glorifies Washington crossing the Delaware but ignores the horrific Trail of Tears or the racialized tyranny that was the Jim Crow South does not train better citizens, and it most certainly does not cultivate a better educational system in our state. George Santayana once wrote, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” If we refuse to acknowledge our failures it makes it impossible for us to truly appreciate our successes, and it inevitably leads us to further mistakes, which our generation can ill afford to make.
Learning about these dark points in our history does not make students unpatriotic. It makes them understand that our nation, like all things made by humans, is not perfect. It teaches students how citizens before us have both triumphed and failed, and focusing on those failures teaches us how to make the modern United States a better place. A partisan interpretation of history, such as the role of idealism in the settling of America (as opposed to an economic analysis), is an unsustainable pedagogy. It reflects an unneeded intervention by government in our apolitical learning environment. If students are given a polar view of history, they will independently seek out the other side, and in doing so develop disillusionment towards the education system of a nation that appears to be burying its mistakes. We as students will have more respect for our nation if its leaders have the strength to admit they were not always right.
Political misrepresentation of education not only skews students' understanding of the material, but also disadvantages Georgia students on the national level. It is for these reasons that we, as students of Georgia, oppose the passage of Senate Resolution 80, and the arguments upon which it is constructed, and so petition our elected officials to do the same.
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