Last week, we wrote a piece about the Jefferson County, Colorado school district and the teacher sick-ins/student walkouts taking place there over what they see as censorship and revisionist history.
To recap, the conservative school board thought that the new AP curriculum developed by the College Board – a private company that produces the AP tests, the SAT and other standardized exams – emphasized a “leftist” view of American history, and wasn’t teaching “American exceptionalism” as the board thought they should be. So, the district had proposed a curriculum review board. This review board was supposed to ensure that U.S. history materials “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 U.S. history should present balanced and factual treatments of the positions.” They also scrapped the existing teacher pay system, putting in place one where teacher evaluations by the board determined the pay.
The teachers and students had issues with this blatant attempt to censor and rewrite history, as well as the new compensation package, so they acted. The teachers closed two schools by calling in sick one Friday, and the next week, the students began walking out. So, what’s happened since our last post?
The students have had daily walkouts over the last week. Then yesterday, Golden and Jefferson High Schools closed for the day as over three quarters of the teachers had called in sick the night before. A social studies teacher who didn’t take part in the sick-in said about the school board;s proposal: “My feeling is it’s an attack on teachers and public education, and a disregard for the needs of our students. It’s really, really scary to be a teacher in Jefferson County right now,”
The protests have divided the county. The three conservative board members and those who side with them say that the walkouts and sick-ins are a union plot. The union denies any involvement, saying that the protests are strictly a grassroots movement.
Dan McMinimee, the district superintendent, said that each teacher absence would be independently reviewed, and teachers could be docked a day’s pay if their absence falls outside of the collective bargaining agreement. The students for their part say they’re planning a district wide walkout this week.
Occupy World Writes stands in solidarity with the teachers and students of Jefferson County. We call on the school board to stop their attempt to rewrite history, and to negotiate with the teachers over compensation issues. Those children are our country’s future – they deserve the best education we can give them. Teaching revisionist history is not the way to give them that.