AMSCO AP Textbook for US Schools Rewrites Bill of Rights

By now, I’m assuming most are aware of the textbook titled United States History: Preparing for the Advanced Placement Examination that is being utilized in an AP high school history class that essentially rewrites several constitutional amendments. The AMSCO AP textbook shown below is the one in question here is a comparison of several amendments as they wrote them and as they are actually written in the Constitution.

The contents of this book has created controversy
The contents of this book have created controversy

Constitutional 1st Amendment: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

AMSCO: Congress may make no laws that infringe a citizen’s right to freedom of religion, speech, press, assembly, and petition. Congress may not favor one religion over another (separation of church and state).

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Constitutional 2nd Amendment: A well-regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.

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AMSCO: The people have the right to keep and bear arms in a state militia.

Constitutional 4th Amendment: The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

AMSCO: The government may not carry out unreasonable searches and seizures of the people’s property.

As anyone can plainly see, the amendments – at the very least – were summarized or abbreviated. However, we are talking about a book that is being used in advanced placement high school classes. If anything, the amendments should be listed as they are written in the Constitution, not shortened and certainly not rewritten!

If you’re like me, this type of chicanery is beyond the pale because it appears to have the left written all over it, doing whatever they can to short circuit the Constitution and downplay its importance. I’m also the type of person who will take the time to write a letter or email to share my disbelief in a situation and I did so with this book. I fired off an email to the folks at AMSCO Publishing and told them as nicely as I could that what they were doing was reprehensible.

The page from the AMSCO AP book, which does more than summarize the amendments
The page from the AMSCO AP book, which does more than summarize the amendments

I did not really expect a reply, but one was there in my inbox this morning. As if that was not enough, the contents of the reply I received also pleasantly surprised me. It was short and to the point, but said a great deal. It was from Karen Andersen in Customer Service (who obviously cut and pasted her response likely because it had been approved as the official response), who said:

“Perfection Learning recently acquired AMSCO School Publications including the AP U.S. History book. This title is currently being revised and it is our intention to include the original language of the Bill of Rights in the new edition. This title is just one of hundreds of texts acquired through purchase of the company and Perfection Learning will continue reviewing all these new materials to identify any needed corrections and updates.”

I wrote a note back to her telling her how pleased I was with the company’s decision and the promptness of her reply. The only thing we need to do now is make sure they do this by checking out future editions of this and other texts from them. It appears as though Perfection Learning purchased AMSCO and with it, the headaches of having to deal with problems published in books when AMSCO ran things. Now, Perfection Learning is in the process of revising this book and for good reason.

If you’d like to drop them a line to let them know that you are pleased with their decision, you can do so at [email protected]

We need to be just as effective and quick to praise a company when they do the right thing as we are to condemn a company’s actions when they do the wrong thing.

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