[dropcap]N[/dropcap]o one calls bullshit like kids call bullshit.
The Jefferson County school board and the district teachers have been warring for nearly a year. The board is intent on “reforming” the district along lines pushed around the country by conservative think tanks, which roughly means more charter schools, private school vouchers, new teacher review processes and weakened tenure.
Teachers have fought back hard, pressing for explanations about the true purpose of the reforms and spotlighting the aggressive, non-transparent and unpopular posture and methods the board majority has adopted.
The story of the clash has bubbled along, throwing off steam now and again, but it blew up this week, when the board proposed creating a new curriculum review panel of indeterminate make up tasked with reshaping Advanced Placement U.S. History material to be more patriotic and positive about the American Experiment.
Specifically, the proposed “board committee for curriculum review” would “promote citizenship, patriotism, essentials and benefits of the free enterprise system, respect for authority and respect for individual rights.” New U.S. History course readings “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.” The committee would also inform the board of “objectionable materials.”
The teachers staged a “sick out” last week in protest. Students took to Facebook, where over the weekend they planned to stage walk-outs this week.
It worked. What happens on Facebook doesn’t stay on Facebook. Hundreds of high schoolers walked out of their classes over the last two days. They stood in the streets waving banners. They told reporters they wanted honesty in their classwork and that knowing the ugly facts about the past makes the past real and doesn’t threaten genuine national pride.
“I don’t think my education should be censored. We should be able to know what happened in our past,” Tori Leu, a 17-year-old student who protested at Ralston Valley High School in Arvada, told CBS.
Tyrone G. Parks, a senior at Arvada High, told CBS the United States is woven from the fabric of civil protest. “Everything that we’ve done is what allowed us to be at this point today. And if you take that from us, you take away everything that America was built off of.”
The national press ran with the story. It moved out of the box.
New York Times: “In Colorado, a Student Counterprotest to an Anti-Protest Curriculum“
Twitter had a #JeffCoSchoolBoardHistory party.
A brief sample:
The Jefferson County School Board majority seems confused about whom they’re serving. No class of human is so ready and able to call bullshit as are kids, especially teenagers — and especially teenagers in AP U.S. History.
The adults could have debated and argued and shouted for years and it all would have sounded to the world beyond the district and the Colorado politics mediasphere like more of the same, just part of what has become a droning, partisan wah-wah-wah, an annoying version of the sound of adults talking in a Peanuts cartoon, the sound of cable TV.
[ Photo by Pierre Metivier. ]