Updated 3:02 p.m.
A member of Colorado’s state Board of Education argued that the fact that the United States voluntarily ended slavery proved “American execptionalism” and this perspective should be taught to students in a recent Facebook post about the AP U.S. History curriculum.
Businesswoman Pam Mazanec, who was elected to represent Colorado’s 4th Congressional district on the board, jumped into a discussion about the AP History course framework Saturday on a Facebook page that describes itself as “a place where teachers and parents are encouraged to speak freely about their issues, questions, and concerns in the Douglas County School District.” The Colorado Independent flagged her comment on Thursday.
Mazanec’s first posts in the thread raised the possibility that the AP History course framework may have been conceived by people with an “agenda,” prompting an AP English teacher to respond by explaining that experienced AP teachers compile the courses’ exams.
She then wrote that her concern for the course “is an overly negative view of our history and many of our historical figures (if mentioned)” and cited history professors with “impressive credentials” who told her that the AP History curriculum is designed to “downplay our noble history.”
She used slavery to illustrate the point:
As an example, I note our slavery history. Yes, we practiced slavery. But we also ended it voluntarily, at great sacrifice, while the practice continues in many countries still today! Shouldn’t our students be provided that viewpoint? This is part of the argument that America is exceptional. Does our APUSH Framework support or denigrate that position?
Students and teachers outraged over proposed changes to the AP History curriculum have staged protests and walk-outs over the past two weeks in Jefferson County, which lies in the state’s 7th Congressional district. The original proposal called for promoting “patriotism” and downplaying “civil disorder,” although the Jefferson County school board voted Thursday night to adopt a compromise plan.
Elaine Gantz Berman, one of Mazanec’s Democratic colleagues on the state Board of Education, told TPM on Friday that she was “appalled” and “embarrassed” by Mazanec’s remarks.
“I vigorously disagree with her comments,” Berman said. “I’m actually embarrassed that a member of the state Board of Education would represent the ending of slavery the way she chose. It clearly is uninformed, and I’m appalled by her comments.”
TPM’s calls to Mazanec have not yet been returned.
View Mazanac’s Facebook post below:
Image via Sheridan School District No. 2
Catherine Thompson is a senior editor for Talking Points Memo in New York City. She came to the site in 2013 and reported on national affairs. Previously, she worked as a research assistant to investigative reporter Wayne Barrett. She can be reached at email@example.com.