The kids are all right: Students are the story in JeffCo curriculum clash

[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.

Wonkette: “Colorado Students Ditch Class, Refuse To Love America

TPM: “Students Use Civil Disobedience To Protest Removing It From History Curriculum

New York Times: “In Colorado, a Student Counterprotest to an Anti-Protest Curriculum

Twitter had a #JeffCoSchoolBoardHistory party.

A brief sample:

sample jeffco tweets

Et cetera.

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. ]


  1. Talk about bias in the media. This “protest” is nothing more than communist agitation from people who have proclaimed themselves our betters. America is slipping into the hands of wold be dictators by propagandizing our children. The writer of this article presents one side as truth and crudly refers to the opposing view as “bullshit”. This all stinks to me. Common Core is an attempt to brand communist oppression as freedom. These kids are useful idiots for teachers who teach free-DUMB. End Common Core now.

  2. The teaching of patriotism and US pride should not be wrong.

    There was once a time not long ago when people were proud to say I’m an American you want to make something of it..

    Now adays there are so many people who dream of moving.

    And heck a lot of what is in the history books is biased anyway why not teach with a slant on American pride.

  3. This is a teaching moment, for the kids, and for this District…They are absolutely correct for addressing a grievance to the board, they are using the right to assemble…Civics 101…Stacy, you have fallen for the propaganda you so fear…Christopher, the word and meaning “Patriot” has been perverted by the gop/baggers to support their version of America…Pride is a sin…and being willfully ignorant should be a crime…

  4. Let me start by saying I’m a conservative republican. However, I do believe heartily in the need for our schools to avoid censorship and teach the truth. This DOES mean that we teach the foundations of our country INCLUDING free market benefits and conservative values that our country was founded *(read declaration of independence, constitution & amendments) It’s unavoidable to keep teachers from putting their own spin and opinions on what actually went down. We should teach what truly happened, the good (free market), the bad (slavery/civil war/great depression) but also present an unbiased history.

    On that note, I do know that the majority of kids will support a walkout of school for any agenda. Some truly feel strongly about this, but most are just going with the flow. The truly educated and intelligent among these kids truly do believe in free market and conservative values, but will walk out for the sake of being with the crowd and getting on the news.

  5. It’s too bad conservatives label the Jeffco students exercising their right to protest as pawns, useful idiots and communist agitators. In my opinion they are the useful pawns of Rush Limbaugh, Mike Rosen and other assorted wing bat pin heads. Go Jeffco Students and teachers.

  6. Seems a little suspicious to be honest. Not saying anything was planned or encouraged by teachers, but just seems a little weird.

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