Over 700 Jefferson County High School students are staging walkouts and protests over proposed changes to the Advanced Placement History curriculum. According to Colorado Public Radio:
Last week, a school board member proposed that advanced placement history classes be required to promote free enterprise and patriotism and be required to avoid classroom materials that encourage social strife or civil disobedience. Two high schools in Jefferson County closed Friday after dozens of teachers called in sick in protest.
According the online petition to be delivered to the School District:
Jeffco Public School Board has just proposed a change of curriculum stating that, “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.”
This means that important parts of our history such as the Civil Rights Movement, Native American genocide, and slavery will not be taught in public schools. If these important lessons are not taught, children will not learn from them, and what will stop them from happening again? This is a severe form of censorship intended to keep the youth ignorant and easy to manipulate. I’m hoping to get enough signatures to prove that this is a public issue, so, please, if this is important to you, please sign. Do not let our youth grow up in ignorance; we all deserve the truth!
You can sign the petition here.
You can read more articles at The Denver Post, CBS Denver (with video), and Colorado Public Radio.
Thanks to theseacaptainsdaughter for dropping a link in my inbox.
One of the people that is trying to get these changes made said the following.
While the narrative may be “historically true,” he argues, “progressives are going to be the heroes in this narrative.”
My response? So fucking what?!?
Actually, people should really read the article you just linked to. It’s basically a retired history teacher who’s apparently *just horrified* that kids might learn how to do research and think critically about American history.
Okay so we also need to talk about this bit:
School board member Julie Williams, who sponsored the proposal, said people have misinterpreted what she’s trying to do. She said she’s not trying to eliminate the facts of U.S. history but shares the concerns conservatives nationally have outlined – that AP History casts some parts of history in a negative light, such as the bombing of Hiroshima and slavery.
Because it’s biased history classes, and not the actual fact of millions of people who suffered and died, that portray slavery in a negative light.
Although the news right now is focusing on Colorado, make no mistake that this is definitely a national debate about the nature of education. The walkouts are also a visible symptom of a lot of what’s going on in the school system on the state level as well.
From the 10 o’clock news tonight, here’s some information about the intentions behind the curriculum framework (italicized because it’s not even a full curriculum - it leaves a lot more up to the teachers, and even if it were a full curriculum you can use supplemental materials) from one of the writers. And from the same newscast, here is a particularly telling interview with Julie Williams, in which she says she’s not an expert in American history and yet is leading the charge for the committee. On a broader scale, the Greeley Tribune has an interesting article about the debate about the curriculum during the Colorado Board of Education’s meeting, in which the national issues are pretty clearly reflected.
On a more local level, there’s some scary things going on besides the potential curriculum review in Jefferson County. Part of this is due to Senate Bill 191, which is aimed at fostering teacher accountability, and does so by making student results on standardized tests account for about 50% of a teacher’s annual review. The bill is well-intentioned, and if implemented right would not necessarily have been a bad thing, but many districts have done it in such a way that teachers are terrified about keeping their jobs, and half of teaching now is fighting for the right to be a really good teacher, in addition to actually being a really good teacher. Naturally this has wreaked some havoc on the education world here. There’s questions about exactly what the JeffCo board is pushing, and according to a current teacher in the district (whom I know through Facebook connections), the new pay scheme is made to appeal to new teachers while encouraging old ones to leave. And if you know anything about what’s been going on in nearby Douglas County? Very similar things are happening in Jefferson County right now. Finally, I will leave you with this direction for the review, which the teacher I mentioned earlier quoted from the JeffCo board’s agenda:
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.
Please, please pay attention to this - it’s likely that similar things will happen in other parts of the country if they aren’t already and in other content areas as well. Do not just write it off.