That South Carolina teachers annually plummet their students to failure against national standards; that some teachers are so gifted at it, they are lionized on billboards; and that SC teacher performance derives largely from woeful training in S.C. post-secondaries sketches the state's dire educational direction.
A state thus derelict should years ago have modeled what-works solutions found around the country. This has not been the case, and the lack of trickle-down is pernicious in the area of history.
Why the opposition to Advanced Placement History? Posturing by politicians in Columbia is a symptom not a cause. The cause is found in the intellectual rigor of the AP History exam. Others have raised some of the symptoms. But there is a systemic layer left untouched — unpleasant for locals to air.
The 19th-century debacle melted the perceived moral and historical absolutes with which South Carolina justified its identity. That collapse has left its natives wondering in the main why God failed them in their most righteous hour. The response has been refusal to reshape S.C. culture to redirect this trauma. Failure to transfuse modernity has bequeathed an absurd romance with this debacle. Why?
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The war had the ramifications of a Last Judgment, and was advertised as holy war by both sides. Southern clergy were assuring that God had ordained victory. The actual result proved disorienting to an agrarian culture whose God was as reliable as the seasons. How is South Carolina impacted?
From a religious optic, S.C. churches with largely regional clergy preach normalcy — God is reliable to tunneled obedience. Masked is God's abandonment of his Southern messiah in that end time; God-fearing Southerners quake that the Messiah may do likewise in the End Time. This fear can make faith self-flagellation by faithful who hold a grudge against God. Investigation of this complex would surely alienate an already miffed God; thus, its cosmopolitan engine brands AP History another of S.C.’s Antichrists.
The need for AP History in baggage-laden South Carolina is beyond dispute. Many years ago, the state resolved to send its human treasure to assured destruction. Why consign this century to a similarly reckless and myopic outcome?
The writer, who lives in Murrells Inlet, holds a doctorate in theology, is a member by election to Phi Alpha Theta (International Society for Historical Scholarship), and has taught for over 40 years.