The protests led by Jefferson County students over a proposed American history curriculum committee charged with emphasizing patriotism and downplaying civil disorder picked up fresh momentum yesterday. Attendees of six Jeffco schools let their feelings be known, with at least one more rally on tap for today. And far from shying away from challenging critical adults on the issue, many are happily taking them on. Photos, videos and more below.
As we've reported, the Jeffco school board, which gained three conservative board members as a result of last November's election, is proposing a committee to recommend changes to the history curriculum at the high school level. Here's an excerpt from the committee's de facto mission statement:
Review criteria shall include the following: instructional materials should present the most current factual information accurately and objectively. Theories should be distinguished from fact. Materials should promote citizenship, patriotism, essentials and benefits of the free enterprise system, respect for authority and respect for individual rights. Materials should not encourage or condone civil disorder, social strife or disregard of the law. Instructional materials should present positive aspects of the United States and its heritage. Content pertaining to political and social movements in history should present balanced and factual treatment of the positions.
In protest of this plan, students at Arvada, Arvada West, Lakewood, Wheat Ridge and Pomona high schools walked out of school to demonstrate, with Golden High School students heading to the school district's Golden headquarters to do likewise, following the lead of Evergreen High the day before.
Here's a Facebook video from the Arvada High protest....
...and one from Arvada West:
Marijuana Deals Near You
At the latter, one student also posted a screen shot from New York Times coverage of the demonstrations as evidence that the school board members are "Kocheads:
Afterward, the Lakewood High School Walk Out Facebook page posted a defense of students' actions. It reads:
By walking out during tiger time and our off blocks, we are proving that while we still care about our education, we are willing to sacrifice our valuable free time for a cause that is deeply important to us.
To those who are against 'walking out' because the people who see us might think we are simply ditching school, remember that you cannot control what other people think about you. Throughout your life people will always be judging you. What matters now is that this is a cause that we all deeply care about. Who cares if a few adults passing by think " delinquent rebellious kids!" Change is made by those who choose to continue on despite the judgments of others.
I would like to invite anyone with further questions that were not answered during the meeting today (and will likely not be answered even if you do send them in to McMinimee) to message us with your question. WE do want everyone to be well-informed.
On this last point, a conservative Arvada West alumnus posted on the AW Walk Out page both a World Net Daily article about the alleged hard-left turn taken by American history education nationwide and a press release by board member Julie Williams, the person who pushed for the committee in the first place. We've included the entire post on the next page. But commenters weren't buying his argument. One wrote, "Quoting 'wnd' wont make you many friends on this page. Troll your boat on Breitbart," while another simply declared "FAIL."
Oh yeah: Chatfield High School students are expected to protest today at 8:10 a.m.
Here's a 7News report about yesterday's events. That's followed by the aforementioned AW Walk Out post featuring the Williams press release.
We Believe Local Journalism is Critical to the Life of a City
Engaging with our readers is essential to Westword's mission. Make a financial contribution or sign up for a newsletter, and help us keep telling Denver's stories with no paywalls.
Support Our Journalism
Continue for the post by a conservative critic of the student walk outs, including a press release from Jeffco school board member Julie Williams. AW Walk Out Facebook page post:
Good thing I'm not the principal. You would all get 2 hours detention for each hour missed in school.
You really need to learn the real story. The College board has proposed a radical new AP US history curriculum. In that curriculum they have omitted Jefferson, Madison, Franklin, the Nazi's, Martin Luther King and other important aspects of American History. Here is a link explaining this radical new agenda. http://www.wnd.com/2014/08/u-s-history-takes-drastic-left-turn-this-fall/
The Jefferson County School Board wants to investigate this new radical curriculum before implementing it, and trashing the decades old curriculum. Here is the press release from Julie Williams.
Press Release Re: AP U.S. History Curriculum Committee
I was truly surprised by the reaction of so many people regarding the AP U.S. History curriculum (APUSH). I must not have explained myself clearly. I thought everyone, or at least everyone involved in education understood the huge debate and controversy surrounding the new APUSH. To be accused of censorship? "Seriously?" That is just ridiculous. I am advocating for just the opposite. So, please let me start at the beginning.
APUSH is new. This is important to state because some may not know it is NEW. It came into existence quite recently under dubious and secretive circumstances (just like the Common Core). If fully implemented, APUSH would greatly modify and standardize the teaching of US History in every high school in America.
I presented a resolution to Opt-Out of Common Core and PARCC Testing and to my dismay it was tabled in favor of a deeper look. APUSH fits right into Common Core and a one size fits all curriculum. One of the main characters behind the Common Core, David Coleman, is the president and chief executive of the College Board.
APUSH rejects the history that has been taught in the country for generations. It has an emphasis on race, gender, class, ethnicity, grievance and American-bashing while simultaneously omitting the most basic structural and philosophical elements considered essential to the understanding of American History for generations. Let me give you some examples of who is omitted: Jefferson, Adams, Madison, Franklin with not even a mention of Martin Luther King, Jr. who was on the forefront of the civil rights movement. It ignores lessons on the Boston Tea Party, Lexington, Jefferson's First Inaugural Address, Lincoln's Gettysburg Address and the list continues...
APUSH is untested and unresearched! It has been left up to the school districts to do the research and that is merely what I am suggesting. There needs to be a debate on the merits of rejecting current history curriculum before an examination on the new curriculum begins. Many community members have brought to my attentions their concerns, as a Board Member, it is my duty to bring the following concerns to the forefront:
Parents who have reviewed APUSH have been very unhappy with what their children will be taught and have lost trust in the "experts". Please note: This is NOT a committee to review teachers, this is NOT about teachers, it is about curriculum review, which is a board's responsibility.
Balance and respect for traditional scholarship is NOT censorship. Again we believe that exposure to the curriculum itself, not inflammatory rhetoric; will convince most parents that a review committee is a very good idea. I humbly ask our Jeffco history teachers to review their philosophical position on the APUSH. I think the majority will be surprised to find they agree. I invite them to join us while we investigate this curriculum, together.
Here is some perspective: The Texas State Board of Education has voted to set aside the new AP U.S. History Framework in favor of its own state-mandated U.S. history curriculum. If there is no concern with the curriculum then I would ask why so much resistance? No one is talking about getting rid of AP U.S. History. I am just asking for us to take a deeper look. Let's weigh this curriculum against the best interests of our students and see where we land.
Last, when it comes to history I believe all children graduating from an American school should know 3 things: American Exceptionalism, an understanding of US History, and know the Constitution.
Julie Williams Jeffco Board of Education
Before you ditch any more school you should really do more research.
Send your story tips to the author, Michael Roberts.