Thousands of students from high schools in suburban Denver have walked out of school this week to protest, some stripping off their clothes and writing protest slogans on their bodies, to oppose what their teachers have told them is a proposed American History curriculum that will teach patriotism and citizenship and deny them the opportunity for civil disobedience, reports the Daily Mail.
As Breitbart News reported, John Ford, president of the Jefferson County Education Association (JCEA), told 9News that he thinks it’s “awesome that students understand and recognize their First Amendment rights and they’re taking action.”
“Trying to create a board that in some ways purifies our curriculum is a little bit concerning and somewhat chilling,” Ford said.
Breitbart News also reported on Friday that the student protests are the result of the Colorado Education Association having received a grant from the National Education Association (NEA) for an “organizational specialist” position, an individual who would work to enable the union to provoke students throughout the state to engage in a walkout.
Teachers’ unions are reportedly threatened by the fact that the Douglas County Board of Education decided not to renegotiate its teachers’ union contract and is now making individual contracts with teachers. With the election of similar reform-minded individuals to the Jefferson County Board of Education (JeffCo), and the adoption of a merit pay system for teachers in that district, unions are feeling desperate.
Anita Stapleton of Stop Common Core Colorado told Breitbart News that JeffCo is the largest school district and very “union-dominant and liberal.”
“Last year the board was flipped to a conservative majority, 3 to 2,” Stapleton told Breitbart News. “It has been brutal since. I started attending their meetings as I am from Pueblo and travel the state bringing public awareness regarding Common Core.”
“The past JeffCo board and superintendent Dr. Stevenson were very condescending to the community members who went against what the union stood for,” she continued. “Board members that disagreed were treated like children and shutdown. They did have two members who stood their ground, Dr. Paula Noonan and Laura Boggs.”
“However, now the board is more conservative and the superintendent is now Dan McMinimee from Douglas County, who is a conservative Republican,” Stapleton said. “The union was furious with this move because the leaders believe the JeffCo players are trying to enact what happened in DougCo.”
Watchdog Wire contributor and Mapleton School Board Director Jennifer Raiffie posted on her Facebook page:
Spontaneous or Organized? The Principal at SLHS [Standley Lake High School] issued a written warning in advance of today’s classes ?#JeffcCoShoolBoardHistory
“I understand there’s a plan and agenda asking students and staff to dress as a historical figure, event, or movement that created “civil disorder, social strife or disregard of the law…” and so made our country and the world a better place.
Please keep in mind that we will follow all student code of conduct policies to include dress code, students must not change their appearance to be un-recognizable, nor can students wear attire that is disruptive to the school environment. Please make sure you are adhering to the policies when deciding on your efforts tomorrow morning.”
According to the Daily Mail, superintendent McMinimee has offered to meet with students about the proposal by board member Julie Williams, which focuses on the new Advanced Placement U.S. History (APUSH) curriculum that has been developed by the College Board, headed by David Coleman, the “architect” of the Common Core standards.
The College Board states the new APUSH curriculum presents a balanced view of American history, but Stanley Kurtz of National Review Online asserts the new curriculum presents a radical revisionist view of U.S. history, one that demotes the founders of the nation and instead provokes a view of America divided into identity groups.
As the students continue to miss days of classroom time, the Daily Mail reports that the school district has not attempted to stop the students from protesting or punish them.
McMinimee said he is worried students are not fully informed of the issues.
“I think sometimes, as a student,” he said, “sometimes you hear what is going on, you don’t necessarily have the whole picture.”
The school board proposal, says the Daily Mail, which was never voted on, reportedly would establish a board committee that would review texts and coursework for A.P. U.S. History, ensure materials “promote citizenship, patriotism, essentials and benefits of the free-marked system, respect for authority and respect for individual rights,” and don’t “encourage or condone civil disorder, social strife or disregard of the law.”
Colorado is one of six states where local school districts, and not the state board of education, have jurisdiction over curriculum.
According to local CBS Denver 4, Stephanie Rossi, an A.P. History teacher and vice-president of the JCEA, said she is outraged by the school board’s proposed evaluation of the APUSH curriculum and the recommendation that the course emphasize patriotism.
“If we can’t talk about the struggles that people go through in history to gain a greater equality, a greater America, how can we convey a true story and convey a complete picture to our students?” Rossi said.
Teachers held a strike, which they called a “sickout,” that began Friday and resulted in the shutdown of two schools. Students started walking out of classes on Monday, organizing themselves through social media. Students from at least six area schools have participated thus far.
The next school board meeting is scheduled for October 2, but no vote is planned on the APUSH proposal.