Despite weeks of student protests and “sick-outs” on the part of teachers, Colorado’s Jefferson County School Board has refused to back off a proposal to review AP US History classes for information that may decrease patriotic feelings or encourage civil disobedience and replace actual facts with “information” that promotes a right-wing viewpoint of the world.
On Thursday, over demands that board members “resign” and promised of a recall vote, the three conservative members outvoted the two others to pass the “review committee,” with some modifications. The board expanded the membership to include students, parents, and administrators.
The Huffington Post reports that,
Board member Julie Williams refused a call to withdraw her original proposal which angered students and teachers by proposing that the course be reviewed with an eye toward promoting patriotism and citizenship and downplaying civil disorder, saying she wanted to keep all options open.
The latest move won’t satisfy the students and others who packed the hearing room and also watched the meeting on a big screen outside in the parking lot with popcorn. The students turned in two cardboard boxes of apetition they said was signed by over 40,000 people across the country.
The board has repeatedly asserted that students who spoke out in objection to the plan to destroy their education “pawns” of the teachers’ union. Parents, however, had an issue with this.
“This is America. Stop calling us names when we exercise our rights,” said Lisa Cooke, a mother of two students.
Another parent, Robert Gleason, after pointing at the Colorado flag in the front of the room, told the board he didn’t want the school district to follow in the path of Texas, where the state school board has told teachers to stick to state history standards, not the new course framework that some view as anti-American.
One man donated a copy of George Orwell’s “1984” to the board. One of the outnumbered supporters of the conservative members held up a copy of the state constitution, pointing out that it gives local school boards the power to make decisions about curriculum.
Witt, Williams and John Newkirk listened calmly at the mounting criticism.
At issue is a new approach to AP History this year that focuses more on examining historical documents and discussing the nation’s history, rather than memorizing facts. The course also gives more attention to the period before the arrival of Christopher Columbus as well as slavery and women’s roles. Some conservatives say the course was influenced by a movement in academia to de-emphasize the United States’ uniqueness and treat it as one nation among many.
Students across a majority of the 17 high schools in Colorado’s second-largest school district have left classes in droves over the past few weeks.
Once again, we see the importance of paying attention to local elections. If they gain a majority anywhere, conservatives are sure to do some real damage.