Denver Students Protest Proposed Curriculum 'Censorship'

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APStudents protest outside of Ralston High School in Arvada, Colo.


Hundreds of students have walked out of classrooms in Jefferson County, Colorado to protest potential curriculum changes in history that claim would be revisionist and a form of censorship, according to the Los Angeles Times.

As many as 700 students have been involved, according to KDVR-TV. Protests started at the Evergreen High School on Monday and then spread to the Alameda International High School and Chatfield and Dakota Ridge high schools.

The acts of civil disobedience are meant to be in contrast to the planned review of a new Advanced Placement History curriculum that could reduce or remove information about civil disobedience and civil disorder. The curriculum changes are intended to address an overhaul in the AP History test that the New Jersey-based College Board has instituted, according to Colorado Public Radio. The College Board wants to move toward measuring how well students can develop critical analyses and away from pure memorization of facts.

What sparked the protests was a proposal by new school board member Julie Williams, according to CPR. The review criteria, as published by the school board, were what upset many students and their parents.

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.

Although calling for factual treatment, the criteria seem to list non-fact-based biases that would be encouraged. Colorado Public Radio reported that a subsequent draft by school board member John Newkirk "removed the most controversial sections of the proposal." CPR said that the new language has not been formally introduced and that Newkirk claimed Williams had accepted the changes, although the news organization had not been able to verify the statement.

Social networks have been busy with largely negative reactions toward the school board's actions, often coaching the criticisms in ways of interpreting history that they say the more "positive" approach could engender.


Ken Witt, president of the school board, has claimed that the protests were not the idea of the students, as he said to the Denver Post.

It's a shame we see kids on the streets instead of in classrooms," he said. "It is never OK to use kids as pawns, and it's exactly what I think is happening here. And I'm disappointed in the actors in this - the union message coming down through the teachers to get kids to deliberately get out and protest something they don't have any facts about whatsoever."

The Republican National Committee has adopted a resolution calling the proposed changes "a radically revisionist view of American history that emphasizes negative aspects of our nation's history while omitting or minimizing positive aspects."

Williams, Newkirk, and Witt had all run and won as a Republican slate last fall, taking three open seats and gaining a majority, according to the Denver Post. At the time, Witt said that Jefferson County residents "are looking for meaningful reform in the county."

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Denver Students Protest Proposed Curriculum 'Censorship'
Students line a busy intersection protesting against a Jefferson County School Board proposal to emphasize patriotism and downplay civil unrest in the teaching of U.S. history, in the Denver suburb of Littleton,Thursday, Sept. 25, 2014. Several hundred students walked out of class Thursday in the fourth straight day of protests in Jefferson County. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)
Student walk-outs in Jefferson County continued for the third straight day after students from Chatfield High School and Dakota Ridge High School left classes in protest of school board decisions and proposals, September 24, 2014. Students for the two schools joined together, at the corner of Ken Caryl and Chatfield Blvd. in Littleton, to wave sings. (Photo by RJ Sangosti/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
Ava Tepi holds a sign as she joined other student during walkout for the third straight day after students from Chatfield High School and Dakota Ridge High School left classes in protest of school board decisions and proposals, September 24, 2014. Students for the two schools joined together, at the corner of Ken Caryl and Chatfield Blvd. in Littleton, to wave sings. (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)
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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