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TN lawmakers concerned about Advanced Placement U.S. History curriculum

Taking the lead from national Republican leadership, Tennessee lawmakers are questioning political bias in the Advanced Placement United States History course, which high school juniors can take for college credit.

The Commercial Appeals reports that Senate Education Committee Chairman Dolores Gresham, a Republican from Somerville, and Senate Government Operations Committee Chairman Mike Bell, a Republican from Riceville, sent a joint letter to the State Board of Education, asking that the board “address the public concerns and conduct a review of the framework and materials used in all Advanced Placement courses taught in Tennessee classrooms.”

But state leaders in education say they haven’t heard many concerns from the public about the U.S. History curriculum. The Commercial Appeal reports the board has received “less than 10 emails specifically about AP U.S. history and they all have pretty similar language,” according to David Sevier, the deputy executive director of the State Board of Education. The state department of education hasn’t received any complaints, nor has the Fayette County School System, in Gresham’s district.

Joey Garrison of the Tennessean reports that the language of Gresham and Bell’s complaint is mostly lifted from a resolution from the Republican National Committee against the College Board-developed curriculum, which cites a lack of discussion of the founding fathers and the principles of the Declaration of Independence in the curriculum as a cause for concern. The College Board is a private company that also administers the SAT.

Social studies has raised controversy for its subject matter before, most recently in Williamson County, where some community members had similar concerns about political bias in one textbook last year. But more often, the subject has flown under the radar. This year, the state is rolling out new standards and a new assessment for the subject for the first time in more than a decade.

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