Family Moab

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In Arches National Park

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Civil Disobedience at School

Jefferson County has been civil disobedience central for the last few weeks. The school district, just northwest of here, has seen teachers walk out (or "sick out") and high school students skip school to protest actions of the conservative school board majority. The high number of teachers out sick on Monday resulted in two high schools closing for the day, and yesterday several dozen students from a middle school walked out of their classes to join the protests (Denver Post, 9/29/14 - 10/1/14, Teachers have been protesting a new evaluation system and curriculum changes for months, but a recent board decision to alter the AP US History curriculum galvanized students to their side.

The conservative majority of the Jeffco board proposed a committee to revise the AP US History materials. 'As initially proposed by board member Julie Williams, instructional material should promote "positive aspects" of U.S. history and avoid encouraging "civil disorder, social strife or disregard of the law."' (Jesse Paul, Denver Post,, 10/1/14). Students, parents and teachers hit the streets with signs saying "don't censor history!" and "we will learn the truth". One student said "if they don't want to teach us civil disobedience then we will teach it to ourselves." (Denver Post, 9/25/14

Editorials in the Post have called for teachers to return to work and students to return to class. The editorial board exhorts students to learn more about the proposed changes and realize that any history curriculum leaves material out by default. I don't know a lot, but it looks like the students got the right memo. Who thinks that US History should be all about the "positive", without referencing worker's rights, women's suffrage, or the civil rights movement?

The protests get more interesting today, the official "count day" when the schools report attendance to the state, which then determines how much funding each school will get based on the number of students present. We received a letter from our elementary school strongly encouraging our students to attend on this day; I wonder what will happen if the protests continue in Jeffco through the count? The board says Colorado will look 5 days before and 5 days after the count to get a true picture of attendance but these protests have been going on for three weeks; who's calling who's bluff? The Jeffco board has really done a wonderful job in teaching civil disobedience and I commend them for getting students from ages 11 to 18 to join their teachers in a new rights' movement.

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