JeffCo students walk out, again, over proposed history curriculum changes
More Jefferson County students walked out of classes Tuesday in protest of a proposal to change the AP History curriculum in the district, which is the state's second largest.
Hundreds of students left class at several JeffCo high schools, including Arvada West, Pomona and Ralston.
"The point is to make a statement about being against these changes," says a post from the Arvada West Walk Out Facebook page. "Keep it peaceful and not too rowdy to avoid any potential problems. Let everyone at Arvada West know about this! It's time to take a stand!"
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Some language in the resolution is virtually identical to language adopted by the Texas Board of Education.
But, as fellow school board member John Newkirk told CPR News' Elaine Grant, a subsequent draft removed the most controversial sections of the proposal. Williams accepted those changes, he says.
"One of the misnomers that I see is that there's some language in the first draft that says something like 'positive aspects of the United States will be portrayed." he says. "I've got no problem with that, as long as all aspects of the American experience are portrayed. Now what some people have erroneously come to the conclusion [of] is that only positive aspects. Which of course the draft doesn't say and is something I wouldn't agree to."
Williams could not be reached for comment, but she said in a statement quoted by Chalkbeat Colorado that new curriculum for the Advanced Placement U.S. history course is revisionist and portrays the nation’s history in a negative context.
“I was truly surprised by the reaction of so many people regarding the AP U.S. History curriculum,” Williams said. “I must not have explained myself clearly. I thought everyone, or at least everyone involved in education, understood the huge debate and controversy surrounding the new [curriculum]. … Balance and respect for traditional scholarship is NOT censorship.”
Photos posted to Twitter show students protesting across the county:
Students at Arvada West HS protesting curriculum proposals. "You can't make America seem perfect," says one. #edcolo pic.twitter.com/Cqzgw3MmZy— Eric Gorski (@egorski) September 23, 2014
A smaller group of students gathered outside of Ralston Valley High School.
Small group of Ralston Valley High School students in walk out, protesting. They're only yelling when cars drive by pic.twitter.com/PJKo1S2BYX— Colleen Ferreira (@ColleenFerreira) September 23, 2014
Jefferson County Schools Superintendent Dan McMinimee said he respects students' rights to express their opinions.
"I do, however, prefer that our students stay in class," he said in a statement Tuesday afternoon. He also reiterated that no decisions have been made regarding curriculum changes.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Colorado offered its support to the students on Tuesday.
"It’s ironic that an attempt to downplay examples of social change being accomplished through civil disobedience has spurred a community-wide crash course in just how important it is to be able to speak out and question authority in a just and democratic society," ACLU of Colorado Executive Director Nathan Woodliff-Stanley said in a statement.
The Jefferson County School Board may take up the issue again at its next meeting in early October.
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