Controversy and Student Protests over proposed AP History Curriculum Review

Controversy and Student Protests over proposed AP History Curriculum Review

Once again, the Jefferson County School District, the largest in the state of Colorado, and its school board finds themselves embroiled in yet another controversy. This time its not about the abrupt resignation of Superintendent Cindy Stevenson. Nor is it about the hiring of Superintendent Dan McMimimee at a salary of $280,000 per year for the next five years.  This time the two-pronged controversy involves teacher pay and a proposed AP History curriculum review.  Last week, teachers at two schools staged a “sick-out” over the proposed pay scale. This week students from approximately seven high schools staged protests.

Student walk-outs in Jefferson County continues

Student walk-outs in Jefferson County continues

The protests involve a proposal, tabled until October, that would establish a curriculum review committee focusing first on the AP US History courses and elementary health education.  The committee proposal states in part:

Review criteria shall include the following: instructional materials should present the most current factual information accurately and objectively. Theories should be distinguished from fact. 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. Instructional materials should present positive aspects of the United States and its heritage. Content pertaining to political and social movements in history should present balanced and factual treatment of the positions.

Promoting citizenship, respect for each other, patriotism and the understanding of our individual rights are exactly why our Founders took the steps they did in establishing this Republic we reside in. So why are students protesting? For some it is because of concern that the curriculum will not allow for dialogue and removes ability for students to protest or approach the board with their concerns. According to Fox News:

A student demonstrator, Tyrone G. Parks, a senior at Arvada High School, said Tuesday that the nation’s foundation was built on civil protests, “and 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.”

For others it is due to the lack of communication from the school board regarding why a curriculum review of the new material is important. As reported in Chalkbeat:

“I want the school board to know we don’t want to be sugar fed history,” said Leighann Gray, an Arvada High student. “They didn’t send anyone from the school board to talk to us. [The central administrator assigned to her school] is not from the board. So I don’t care.”

Julie Williams, the Jeffco Board member penned a letter outlining why she proposed the curriculum committee. In that letter she states:

APUSH rejects the history that has been taught in the country for generations. It has an emphasis on race, gender, class, ethnicity, grievance and American-bashing while simultaneously omitting the most basic structural and philosophical elements considered essential to the understanding of American History for generations. Let me give you some examples of who is omitted: Jefferson, Adams, Madison, Franklin with not even a mention of Martin Luther King, Jr. who was on the forefront of the civil rights movement. It ignores lessons on the Boston Tea Party, Lexington, Jefferson’s First Inaugural Address, Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address and the list continues…

What has been lost in the midst of these protests is a simple fact. The College Board has already changed the AP curriculum. According to Phil Tenser of 7News Denver:

APUSH is administered by the College Board, the same group that runs the SAT test. The new curriculum, summarized in a framework document, became effective in fall of 2014. Hundreds of other documents posted by the College Board delve deeper into each area of the curriculum.

Tenser also writes:

Williams accurately states in her letter that Martin Luther King Jr. is not mentioned in the 142-page APUSH curriculum outline. However, the civil rights movement is mentioned frequently.
She incorrectly states that Thomas Jefferson is not mentioned. In fact, his name appears in the framework document precisely once — as an example of a former colonist who “continued to possess wealth, power and influence” after the American Revolution.
The document’s only mention of John Adams appears in the same paragraph.

Wow! Two of our great Presidents are only mentioned once! So, the College Board doesn’t think our children need to know about Thomas Jefferson writing the Declaration of Independence, or that John Adams helped Jefferson write the it?  I guess the fact that they both served as Presidents of the United States isn’t worth mentioning either. Meanwhile, Martin Luther King, Jr’s “I Have A Dream” speech is left out entirely. What else is left out?  Read through the College Board curriculum and find out for yourselves. It can be found here.

Jefferson County Schools are not alone in desiring a review of the new curriculum standards. The Texas Board of Education recently voted to keep its standards on the Texas curriculum as opposed to adopting the new College Board curriculum. Tennessee and South Carolina respectively are also undergoing their own reviews of the new curriculum.

Wouldn’t it be wise for the board, teachers, and parents to make a detailed comparison of the current curriculum vs. the new one? And wouldn’t it be wise to engage directly with the teachers in their classrooms to understand what they are teaching right now?  One would think so!  In fact, one would think that ACLU should themselves be concerned about what is left out of the curriculum. But no… instead they are having fits about the word “objectionable”, and want “academic integrity” over “ideological agendas”.  And here I  always thought the ACLU was nothing but an ideological agenda.  But I digress.

How will this get resolved?  Only time will tell.  However, it is worth noting an important fact. The students who gathered to protest have indeed learned from history. They planned, gathered, and are using their voices to express their views regarding this issue, thus putting into action their 1st Amendment rights. I can’t help but applaud them for that.

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  • Chris in N.Va. says:

    (Cue up the golden-oldie Sam Cooke song)

    Don’t know much about ….

    ….well, fill in the blank — and it’s a BIG blank spot…

    These poor little fragile snowflakes just cannot stand the daylight of ALL of history, especially that which either contradicts or counterbalances the skewed, one-sided propaganda that’s been crammed into their little craniums by the Liberal teacher’s unions.

    Ooo,,,ouch, the truth, it’s making me think (is THAT what it feels like?) and it hurts my synapses —both of them.

  • Jodi says:

    Obviously, the irony is lost on these students.

    • Chris in N.Va. says:

      Too true.

      ADDING information that has been censored OUT of their textbooks/curricula is considered by these Densa candidates (that’s Mensa’s inverse alternate-universe cousin) as CENSORING and limiting the information presented to them.

      War is Peace.
      Lies are Truth.
      We have always been at war with Eastasia. (well, that one is actually still simmering away!).

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