By Kate Marin
LITTLETON, Colorado, U.S.A. – On the mid-September day the protests began in the Jeffco schools, a friend came up to me and said, “I heard the high schoolers are having a walkout to protest the board changing the curriculum. I heard they’re changing it to show America in a better light.”
I asked her where she got her information and told her she probably had a bad source. I said there’s no way we elected a school board who would do anything like that.
Obviously I was wrong, but I wonder, if a middle school student like me can see that what is going on is wrong, then who the heck did we elect for the board?
The school board majority (President Ken Witt, 1st Vice President Julie Williams, and Secretary John Newkirk) proposed a measure that will allow them to create their own curriculum review committee, even though Jeffco already has one that actually has experience in education – which the board majority does not.
The first items up for review: elementary school sex education and Advanced Placement U.S. History, a college level class.
The serious movement towards changing these units hints at a partisan agenda. Our current curriculum review team should be the people reviewing what we learn.
We are human, we make mistakes, and I think the most important thing is that we teach future generations about the mistakes that we made.
“Those who don't cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it,” wrote the philosopher and cultural critic George Santayana.
Can you imagine going to college and being the person who doesn’t really know about slavery, Hiroshima, or the women’s rights movement? Our board has watched schools shut down due to teacher “sick outs,” has seen entire classrooms empty due to student “walk outs,” and seen middle school students dressed in black, all to protest what the board is doing.
So far the biggest counter argument to the protests the school board could come up with is that the students don’t even know what they’re doing. They claim that we are being manipulated by the teachers’ union and have no idea what we are protesting. They claim these things even though the teachers (in or out of the union) are completely forbidden to talk about these current events with their students.
We have the freedom to protest and make our voices heard as citizens of the United States of America, yet board member Williams has gone so far as to say she wants to raise good citizens, not rebels.
Some of the greatest and most important social changes were caused by peaceful rebellion.
Where would we be without the protests of Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks, or Susan B. Anthony? These are some of the people who could be erased from our history course if changes are made to the curriculum.
The board claims one of their biggest problems with the protests is that the kids are missing out on learning. I wonder if the school board majority thinks kids are still really learning if our classes are being censored.
Some of the most important things you learn are in high school. School board members should understand by now that Jeffco students don’t want the censored and edited version. We want the truth.
The College Board, which oversees Advanced Placement courses and testing as well as the SAT test, weighed in on the issue with the following:
Statement in Support of Students
26 September 2014
The College Board’s Advanced Placement Program supports the actions taken by students in Jefferson County, Colorado to protest a school board member’s request to censor aspects of the AP U.S. History course. The board member claims that some historical content in the course “encouraged or condoned civil disorder, social strife, or disregard for the law.”
These students recognize that the social order can – and sometimes must – be disrupted in the pursuit of liberty and justice. Civil disorder and social strife are at the patriotic heart of American history – from the Boston Tea Party to the American Revolution to the Civil Rights Movement. And these events and ideas are essential within the study of a college-level, AP U.S. History course.
The College Board will always listen to principled concerns based on evidence – and in fact has announced a public-review process for the AP U.S. History course framework. But in light of current events, an important policy reminder is in order:
College faculty and AP teachers collaborate to develop, deliver, and evaluate AP courses and exams. Their partnership ensures that these courses align with the content and rigor of college-level learning, while still providing teachers with the flexibility to examine topics of local interest in greater depth.
To offer a course labeled “AP” or “Advanced Placement,” a school must agree to meet the expectations set for such courses by the more than 3,300 colleges and universities across the globe that use AP Exam scores for credit, placement, or consideration in the admission process.
As vital context for the courageous voices of the students in Colorado, the AP community, our member institutions and the American people can rest assured: .
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