The Oklahoma lawmaker who sponsored the controversial bill that would have cut state funding for AP U.S. History courses said on Wednesday that he would pull the bill and rewrite it.
“We’re trying to fix the bill,” state Rep. Dan Fisher (R) told The Oklahoman. “It was very poorly worded and was incredibly ambiguous, and we didn’t realize that, so it’s been misinterpreted. We’re going to clear it up so folks will know exactly what we’re trying to accomplish, and it’s not to hurt AP. We’re very supportive of the AP program.”
The bill, which the Oklahoma House Common Education Committee passed on Wednesday, would have eliminated state funding for AP U.S. History classes unless the College Board changed its controversial new course framework.
Fisher lamented that the course emphasized “what is bad about America.”
Republican House Floor Leader Jason Nelson said that the new version of the bill will not cut funding for the AP class, but will ask the state board of education to review the course instead, according to The Oklahoman.
State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister told the Tulsa World that she will work with Fisher to edit the bill. She said “he realized he needed to work to find balance.”
Hofmeister said she wants to respect constituents’ concerns about the new AP U.S. History course, but that students need to learn about the bad parts of American history along with the good.
“There is a local control aspect to this that, as a conservative, I think we should be respecting parent choices, as well as a school district or community that says, ‘We don’t want to be a part of that or we do,'” she said. “We have a great country and we have a country with a rich history of courage and sacrifice, and that comes with a part of our history that isn’t very pleasant to read about — and all of that needs to be included.”
After the committee first passed the bill, the legislation gained national attention and resistance from students and teachers.
Moin Nadeem, an Oklahoma student, started a petition asking lawmakers not to ban the course. The petition gained more than 10,000 signatures in 24 hours.
Janet Thomas, an AP History teacher at Booker T. Washington High School in Tulsa, told the Tulsa World that the new test “requires a lot more critical thinking skills than the old test did,” but the content of the test has not changed very much.
“It’s not just memorization of facts and dates. It allows students the opportunity to compare things across times in history and think critically about why certain things happened,” she said.
After the College Board released the new course framework in October 2012, opposition to the new test grew among conservatives.
When the Republican National Committee condemned the class for its “consistently negative view of American history,” numerous states followed suit in renouncing the course.
This post has been updated.