Colo. Students Protest Proposal to Promote Positive Aspects of U.S. History

By Denisa R. Superville — September 24, 2014 2 min read
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Hundreds of students walked out of school in a Denver suburb on Wednesday—the third day of protests this week against a proposal by a school board member to review the history curriculum to promote positive aspects of U.S. history and heritage and avoid aspects that would encourage “civil disorder, social strife, or disregard of the law,” The Denver Post reported.

Hundreds of students from six high schools walked out of classes on Tuesday. On Wednesday, about 700 did so—the largest of the three-day protests against the proposed curriculum changes by a member of the Jefferson County Board of Education.

The Denver Post reported that students were waving American flags. Others held signs that said “Don’t make history a mystery"—the protests’ slogan.

Jefferson County—commonly referred to as Jeffco—just outside of Denver, is Colorado’s second-largest school district.

According to the Associated Press, Julie Williams, one of the three conservative members of the five-member board, made the proposal to ensure that curriculum materials “present positive aspects of the nation’s history and heritage.”

To that end, a nine-member committee would be convened to regularly review course plans, including in Advanced Placement U.S. history, to ensure that the contents “promote citizenship, patriotism, essentials and benefits of the free-market system, respect for authority, and respect for individual rights.” Materials should not “encourage or condone civil disorder, social strife, or disregard of the law,” according to proposal, which also says that content related to political and social movements in history “should present balanced and factual treatment of the positions.”

ABC 7 television reports that the protests started at the board meeting last Thursday when the proposal for the review committee was introduced, along with another dealing with teacher compensation.

On Friday, classes were canceled at two high schools because a large number of teachers were absent. Students started walking out of classes on Monday to express their displeasure with the proposed curriculum review. There has been no vote on the curriculum proposal to date.

District Superintendent Dan McMinimee said in a statement that while he respects the students’ right to protest, he would rather that they stayed in class and in their buildings.

“My leadership team and I have visited several high schools in the past few days, meeting with large and small groups of students, answering their questions and listening to their legitimate concerns,” he said in a statement posted on the district’s website. “Our most important priority is to keep our children safe during these demonstrations. It’s also important that our community understand that no decisions have been made regarding the curriculum committee.”

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A version of this news article first appeared in the District Dossier blog.