Teacher protests have shut down schools for two days out of the past two weeks and continue to gain momentum. Ironically, the protest was ignited by a proposal that said the high school AP U.S. History curriculum should not encourage civil disorder. Apparently, that was the school board’s job.
The AP History review was the last straw in a fight that has been building since voters elected the current the school board, which now has a conservative majority.
According to PBS, the board members have promoted a new pay scale that would put a greater emphasis on teacher performance and given more money to charter schools and kindergarten education since election, measures opposed by the Jefferson County Education Association, the local teacher’s union.
With the two sides already at odds, it was only a matter of time before a full-scale protest.
The Colorado teachers finally had it when the school board proposed a review of the AP U.S. History curriculum, in which board member Julia Williams said.
“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.”
CBS reported that as a result, two high schools, Golden and Jefferson, had to close down because 81 percent and 70 percent of teachers called in sick, respectively. It was the second mass “sick out” in the past two weeks. Many of the students have joined the protest by dressing up as historical figures who also engaged in civil protests, such as Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks.
The Republican party and conservatives have taken a harsh stance towards the new AP History curriculum, which was implemented this fall. The Republican National Committee said it was “radically revisionist” and the AP reported that conservative activists in Texas saw an unfair anti-American bias in the history lessons. The activists even referred to it as “mind-control.”
Julia Williams links the new curriculum to the Obama Administration’s “Common Core” educational standards, a system Williams noted she would have preferred to opt out of.
On the other hand, teachers and protesters argue that the school board is censoring history.
According to Conifer High School teachers the board revisions would “require teachers to completely ignore certain aspects of American history rather than teach the entirety of American history.”
Another teacher, who wished to remain anonymous, said, “My feeling is it’s an attack on teachers and public education, and a disregard for the needs of our students. It’s a really, really scary to be a teacher in Jefferson County right now,” according to the Guardian.
With both sides accusing the other of biased censorship, the Colorado county may be locked in protests for some time to come.
[Image Credit: AP Photo/Brennan Linsley]