Denver Students Protest Proposed Curriculum 'Censorship'
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.
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.
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
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.
Indian Reservations were a prime real estate deal. #JeffCoSchoolBoardHistory- Lacy wilhelm (@lacyswisdom) September 25, 2014
Those African American protestors had dog treats in their pockets. #JeffCoSchoolBoardHistory- TJ Fry (@tjdrives) September 25, 2014
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.
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."
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."
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."