Jason English's 30th Birthday Extravaganza!

It's my birthday, but I'm passing the savings along to you! (Or something like that.)

Because planning an actual party would be a logistical nightmare—what are the chances we could find a date that worked for everyone?—let's skip to the part where I hand out goodie bags. To celebrate the end of my roaring twenties, we're going to give away some magazines.

goodie-bagsThe first 30 people from the U.S. or Canada to email jasonturned30@gmail.com will get a free back issue of mental_floss magazine. If you're already a subscriber and would like to give an issue to a friend, just explain that in the email and provide that person's address. But type quickly, because an offer like this won't come around again until my 40th birthday in 2019. Or maybe when office dog Bailey turns 30 in dog years (early '10).

Now, what's likely to happen here is this: we'll get 400 "I'll take a free magazine!" emails in the next half-hour, leaving 370 of you disappointed. That sounds like a pretty crappy party, even by fake party standards. So I'll pick 10 other people at random to receive t-shirts and books to cushion the stinging blow of disappointment.

[Note: Those are the actual goodie bags my wife assembled for our daughter's 1st birthday party last week. We forgot all about them until everyone had left. Do Smarties and Dum Dums keep?]

College Board Wants to Erase Thousands of Years From AP World History, and Teachers Aren't Happy

One would be forgiven for thinking that the Ides of March are upon us, because Julius Caesar is being taken out once again—this time from the Advanced Placement World History exam. The College Board in charge of the AP program is planning to remove the Roman leader, and every other historical figure who lived and died prior to 1450, from high school students’ tests, The New York Times reports.

The nonprofit board recently announced that it would revise the test, beginning in 2019, to make it more manageable for teachers and students alike. The current exam covers over 10,000 years of world history, and according to the board, “no other AP course requires such an expanse of content to be covered over a single school year.”

As an alternative, the board suggested that schools offer two separate year-long courses to cover the entirety of world history, including a Pre-AP World History and Geography class focusing on the Ancient Period (before 600 BCE) up through the Postclassical Period (ending around 1450). However, as Politico points out, a pre-course for which the College Board would charge a fee "isn’t likely to be picked up by cash-strapped public schools," and high school students wouldn't be as inclined to take the pre-AP course since there would be no exam or college credit for it.

Many teachers and historians are pushing back against the proposed changes and asking the board to leave the course untouched. Much of the controversy surrounds the 1450 start date and the fact that no pre-colonial history would be tested.

“They couldn’t have picked a more Eurocentric date,” Merry E. Wiesner-Hanks, who previously helped develop AP History exams and courses, told The New York Times. “If you start in 1450, the first thing you’ll talk about in terms of Africa is the slave trade. The first thing you’ll talk about in terms of the Americas is people dying from smallpox and other things. It’s not a start date that encourages looking at the agency and creativity of people outside Europe.”

A group of teachers who attended an AP open forum in Salt Lake City also protested the changes. One Michigan educator, Tyler George, told Politico, “Students need to understand that there was a beautiful, vast, and engaging world before Europeans ‘discovered’ it.”

The board is now reportedly reconsidering its decision and may push the start date of the course back some several hundred years. Their decision will be announced in July.

[h/t The New York Times]

North America: East or West Coast?


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