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Ben Boychuk

is associate editor of City Journal, where he writes on education and California politics. Previously, he served as managing editor of the Heartland Institute's School Reform News and the Claremont Review of Books. He is also a former editorial writer for Investor's Business Daily and the Press-Enterprise in Riverside, California. Reach him at

Boychuk writes a weekly column for the Sacramento Bee and Scripps-Howard News Service. His work has also appeared in the Los Angeles Times, the Orange County Register, the San Francisco Chronicle, the San Diego Union-Tribune, the New York PostNational Review Online, the Korea Times and newspapers across the United States.

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Students deserve better than liberal, blinkered history

By BEN BOYCHUK
Manhattan Institute’s City Journal 

Let’s not kid ourselves. Liberals and leftists have been politicizing American history since at least the 1960s. Radical and social historians are in the mainstream of university history departments today. Who do you think writes the textbooks? Who wrote the new AP history frameworks? Hint: Not right-wingers.

This isn’t about conservative “fear.” It’s about truth.

To hear the framework’s designers tell it, they want to present U.S. history “in context” and free from sentimentality and cant. But the frameworks tell a different story.

“The idea of America as a nation founded on the pursuit of freedom and equality is presented mainly as a myth ever in need of more repudiation,” writes Peter Wood, president of the National Association of Schools.

Perhaps the new AP history frameworks should be called the Howard Zinn frameworks. Zinn, a hard-left Boston University historian who died in 2010, wrote “A People’s History of the United States.” Enormously popular with more than 2 million copies in print, it peddles what one wag properly described as “a victim’s-eye panorama of the American experience.” Zinn’s U.S. is built on uninterrupted exploitation, greed and racism. His history is a blinkered history. So, too, is the College Board’s.

The frameworks’ defenders assert that America’s founding does not get short shrift, contrary to critics’ claims. “The Declaration of Independence stands front and center alongside the Constitution in the section devoted to ‘experiments with democratic ideas and republican forms of government,’ including those of France, Haiti and Latin America,” wrote James Grossman, executive director of the American Historical Association, in The New York Times.

But Grossman misses the point. All republics are not created equal. The French, Haiti and Latin American “experiments” were all failures. The United States is not just another nation among many.

A proper study of history is a key foundation of citizenship. Did America’s founding have defects? Of course, but when it comes to studying our history, “warts and all,” the new historians seem only interested in the warts. 

Reach Ben Boychuk at  op-ed was distributed by McClatchy-Tribune News Service.