Hundreds of High Schoolers Walk Out to Protest Conservative Takeover of History Standards

As part of the long-running textbook wars over American school curricula, the Jefferson County Colorado Board of Education moved earlier this month to alter AP U.S. history standards to meet a more right-wing view of the world, emphasizing “patriotism” and the “free enterprise system” and downplaying “social strife.” Its proposal reads as follows:


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.

What Board Chairman Ken Witt probably didn't expect is what happened next. Yesterday, hundreds of students from five high schools marched out of their classrooms and into the streets to reject the conservative board's proposal. Carrying signs such as “people didn't die so we could erase them,” the students demanded that the proposal be withdrawn.

To get a sense of the size of the protests, the local CBS station reported that 500 students walked out at a single high school, Arvada West High. That is about a third of the students at the school.

In addition to the mass student protests, teachers have been leading actions as well. Last week, as many as 50 teachers at Standley Lake and Conifer high schools staged a sickout to protest the new standards, forcing classes to be canceled.

As both teachers and students continue to speak out, it appears that by attempting to suppress history curriculum that includes information about social strife and protest, Witt is ironically creating it, and teaching an entire nation of its value. 

Watch a report from 7 NEWS about the hundreds of students who protested yesterday.

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