Denver-area students walk out of school in protest

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Denver-area students walk out of school in protest
ARVADA, CO - SEPTEMBER 23: Students, from Pomona High School in Arvada, walkout of school to protest, along Wadsworth Blvd. and 80th Ave., in opposition to a Jefferson County Board of Education proposal to review the curriculum, September 23, 2014. Students in other area high schools also formed similar protest. (Photo by RJ Sangosti/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
ARVADA, CO - SEPTEMBER 23: Students, from Pomona High School in Arvada, walkout of school to protest, along Wadsworth Blvd. and 80th Ave., in opposition to a Jefferson County Board of Education proposal to review the curriculum, September 23, 2014. Students in other area high schools also formed similar protest. (Photo by RJ Sangosti/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
ARVADA, CO - SEPTEMBER 23: Students, from Pomona High School in Arvada, walkout of school to protest, along Wadsworth Blvd. and 80th Ave., in opposition to a Jefferson County Board of Education proposal to review the curriculum, September 23, 2014. Students in other area high schools also formed similar protest. (Photo by RJ Sangosti/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
ARVADA, CO - SEPTEMBER 23: A student, from Pomona High School in Arvada, hangs outs the sunroof as she cheers on other students that walkout of school to protest, along Wadsworth Blvd. and 80th Ave., in opposition to a Jefferson County Board of Education proposal to review the curriculum, September 23, 2014. Students in other area high schools also formed similar protest. (Photo by RJ Sangosti/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
ARVADA, CO - SEPTEMBER 23: Students, from Pomona High School in Arvada, walkout of school to protest, along Wadsworth Blvd. and 80th Ave., in opposition to a Jefferson County Board of Education proposal to review the curriculum, September 23, 2014. Students in other area high schools also formed similar protest. (Photo by RJ Sangosti/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
ARVADA, CO - SEPTEMBER 23: A women gives students, from Pomona High School in Arvada, a thumbs-up as they walkout of school to protest, along Wadsworth Blvd. and 80th Ave., in opposition to a Jefferson County Board of Education proposal to review the curriculum, September 23, 2014. Students in other area high schools also formed similar protest. (Photo by RJ Sangosti/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
ARVADA, CO - SEPTEMBER 23: Students, from Pomona High School in Arvada, walkout of school to protest, along Wadsworth Blvd. and 80th Ave., in opposition to a Jefferson County Board of Education proposal to review the curriculum, September 23, 2014. Students in other area high schools also formed similar protest. (Photo by RJ Sangosti/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
ARVADA, CO - SEPTEMBER 23: Students, from Pomona High School in Arvada, give high-fives to a passing student during a walkout protest, along Wadsworth Blvd. and 80th Ave., in opposition to a Jefferson County Board of Education proposal to review the curriculum, September 23, 2014. Students in other area high schools also formed similar protest. (Photo by RJ Sangosti/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
ARVADA, CO - SEPTEMBER 23: Students, from Pomona High School in Arvada, walkout of school to protest, along Wadsworth Blvd. and 80th Ave., in opposition to a Jefferson County Board of Education proposal to review the curriculum, September 23, 2014. Students in other area high schools also formed similar protest. (Photo by RJ Sangosti/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
ARVADA, CO - SEPTEMBER 23: Lauren Toon, 16, a student from Ralston Valley High School in Arvada, walked out of school to protest in opposition to a Jefferson County Board of Education proposal to review the curriculum, September 23, 2014. Students in other area high schools also formed similar protest. (Photo by RJ Sangosti/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
ARVADA, CO - SEPTEMBER 23: Students, from Ralston Valley High School in Arvada, walked out of school to protest in opposition to a Jefferson County Board of Education proposal to review the curriculum, September 23, 2014. Students in other area high schools also formed similar protest. (Photo by RJ Sangosti/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
ARVADA, CO - SEPTEMBER 23: Students, from Ralston Valley High School in Arvada, walked out of school to protest in opposition to a Jefferson County Board of Education proposal to review the curriculum, September 23, 2014. Students in other area high schools also formed similar protest. (Photo by RJ Sangosti/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
High school students Bronwyn Elisha, center left, and Tori Leu, center right, cheer as a passing motorist honk in support of their protest against a Jefferson County School Board proposal to emphasize patriotism and downplay civil unrest in the teaching of U.S. history, at Ralston Valley High School, in Arvada, Colo., Tuesday, Sept. 23, 2014. Students from at least two high schools walked out of class Tuesday in the second straight day of protests in Jefferson County. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)
Pamona High School students engage with passing motorists in a busy intersection near their school, during a multi-school protest against a Jefferson County School Board proposal to emphasize patriotism and downplay civil unrest in the teaching of U.S. history, in Arvada, Colo., Tuesday, Sept. 23, 2014. Students from several high schools walked out of class Tuesday in the second straight day of protests in Jefferson County. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)
Pamona High School student Tori Suyak holds a sign up to a passing motorist in an intersection near her school, during a multi-school protest against a Jefferson County School Board proposal to emphasize patriotism and downplay civil unrest in the teaching of U.S. history, in Arvada, Colo., Tuesday, Sept. 23, 2014. Students from several high schools walked out of class Tuesday in the second straight day of protests in Jefferson County. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)
Pamona High School students Ciana Vrtikapa, left, and Tori Suyak engage with passing motorists in a busy intersection near their school, during a multi-school protest against a Jefferson County School Board proposal to emphasize patriotism and downplay civil unrest in the teaching of U.S. history, in Arvada, Colo., Tuesday, Sept. 23, 2014. Students from several high schools walked out of class Tuesday in the second straight day of protests in Jefferson County. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)
A protesting Pamona High School student wears a sign on his body as he waves to passing motorists in a busy intersection near his school, during a multi-school protest against a Jefferson County School Board proposal to emphasize patriotism and downplay civil unrest in the teaching of U.S. history, in Arvada, Colo., Tuesday, Sept. 23, 2014. Students from several high schools walked out of class Tuesday in the second straight day of protests in Jefferson County. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)
Pamona High School student Ciana Vrtikapa holds up a sign to passing motorists in a busy intersection near her school, during a multi-school protest against a Jefferson County School Board proposal to emphasize patriotism and downplay civil unrest in the teaching of U.S. history, in Arvada, Colo., Tuesday, Sept. 23, 2014. Students from several high schools walked out of class Tuesday in the second straight day of protests in Jefferson County. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)
Students protest outside of Ralston Valley High School, Tuesday, Sept. 23, 2014, in Arvada, Colo. The students are protesting a proposal by the Jefferson County School Board to emphasize patriotism and downplay civil unrest in the teaching of U.S. history. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)
Students protest outside of Ralston Valley High School, Tuesday, Sept. 23, 2014, in Arvada, Colo. The students are protesting a proposal by the Jefferson County School Board to emphasize patriotism and downplay civil unrest in the teaching of U.S. history. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)
Students protest outside of Ralston Valley High School, Tuesday, Sept. 23, 2014, in Arvada, Colo. The students are protesting a proposal by the Jefferson County School Board to emphasize patriotism and downplay civil unrest in the teaching of U.S. history. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)
Students protesting outside of Ralston Valley High School, get high-fives from a passing jogger, Tuesday, Sept. 23, 2014, in Arvada, Colo. The students are protesting a proposal by the Jefferson County School Board to emphasize patriotism and downplay civil unrest in the teaching of U.S. history. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)
Students protest outside of Ralston Valley High School, Tuesday, Sept. 23, 2014, in Arvada, Colo. The students are protesting a proposal by the Jefferson County School Board to emphasize patriotism and downplay civil unrest in the teaching of U.S. history. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)
Students protest outside of Ralston Valley High School, as a motorist passes by, Tuesday, Sept. 23, 2014, in Arvada, Colo. The students are protesting a proposal by the Jefferson County School Board to emphasize patriotism and downplay civil unrest in the teaching of U.S. history. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)
Students protesting outside of Ralston Valley High School, get a thumbs up from a passing cyclist, Tuesday, Sept. 23, 2014, in Arvada, Colo. The students are protesting a proposal by the Jefferson County School Board to emphasize patriotism and downplay civil unrest in the teaching of U.S. history. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)
Students protest outside of Ralston Valley High School, as a motorist passes by, Tuesday, Sept. 23, 2014, in Arvada, Colo. The students are protesting a proposal by the Jefferson County School Board to emphasize patriotism and downplay civil unrest in the teaching of U.S. history. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)
Students protest outside of Ralston Valley High School, Tuesday, Sept. 23, 2014, in Arvada, Colo. The students are protesting a proposal by the Jefferson County School Board to emphasize patriotism and downplay civil unrest in the teaching of U.S. history. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)
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ARVADA, Colo. (AP) - Hundreds of students walked out of classrooms around suburban Denver on Tuesday in protest over a conservative-led school board proposal to focus history education on topics that promote citizenship, patriotism and respect for authority, in a show of civil disobedience that the new standards would aim to downplay.

The youth protest in the state's second-largest school district follows a sick-out from teachers that shut down two high schools in the politically and economically diverse area that has become a key political battleground.

Student participants said their demonstration was organized by word of mouth and social media. Many waved American flags and carried signs, including messages that read "There is nothing more patriotic than protest."

"I don't think my education should be censored. We should be able to know what happened in our past," said Tori Leu, a 17-year-old student who protested at Ralston Valley High School in Arvada.

The school board proposal that triggered the walkouts in Jefferson County calls for instructional materials that present positive aspects of the nation and its heritage. It would establish a committee to regularly review texts and course plans, starting with Advanced Placement history, to make sure materials "promote citizenship, patriotism, essentials and benefits of the free-market system, respect for authority and respect for individual rights" and don't "encourage or condone civil disorder, social strife or disregard of the law."

The proposal from Julie Williams, part of the board's conservative majority, has not been voted on and was put on hold last week. She didn't return a call from The Associated Press seeking comment Tuesday, but previously told Chalkbeat Colorado, a school news website, that she recognizes there are negative events that are part of U.S. history that need to be taught.

"There are things we may not be proud of as Americans," she said. "But we shouldn't be encouraging our kids to think that America is a bad place."

A student demonstrator, Tyrone G. Parks, a senior at Arvada High School, said Tuesday that the nation's foundation was built on civil protests, "and everything that we've done is what allowed us to be at this point today. And if you take that from us, you take away everything that America was built off of."

The proposal comes from an elected board with three conservative members who took office in November. The other two board members were elected in 2011 and oppose the new plan, which was drafted in response to a national framework for teaching history that supporters say encourages discussion and critical thinking. Detractors, however, say it puts an outsize emphasis on the nation's problems.

Tension over high school education has cropped up recently in Texas, where conservative school board officials are facing criticism over new textbooks. Meanwhile, in South Carolina, conservatives have called on an education oversight committee to ask the College Board, which oversees Advanced Placement courses, to rewrite their framework to make sure there is no ideological bias.

The College Board says the outline provides a balanced view of American history, and officials plan clarify instructions to teachers to make that clear by the end of the month.

Participating students were not punished, school district spokeswoman Lynn Setzer said. They will receive unexcused absences unless their parents call to relay permission for missed classes, Setzer said.

Superintendent Dan McMinimee has met with some of the students and renewed his offer to continue discussions on the issue. "I respect the right of our students to express their opinions in a peaceful manner," he said. "I do, however, prefer that our students stay in class."
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