On Tuesday, hundreds of high school students in Jefferson County, Colorado walked out of classes this week to protest conservative censorship of the national Advanced Placement U.S. history class curriculum.
According to the Denver Post, students and teachers are protesting the removal of all mentions of civil disobedience from texts and classroom materials intended for the teaching of AP U.S. history.
Tuesday’s protests were an extension of a Monday walkout, in which 250 students at Evergreen High School in Golden walked out of morning classes to protest at Jefferson County School District headquarters.
“I want honesty in my classroom. Teachers want honesty in the classroom,” said a letter that students presented to school Superintendent Dan McMinimee on Monday.
On Tuesday, CBS Denver said, “Approximately 500 students walked out at Arvada West High School and 400 at Arvada High School. Approximately 300 students walked out at Golden High School and about 200 students went to the school offices in connection with the protest.”
Teachers staged their own protest last week, calling in sick and thereby shutting down two area high schools in protest of changes proposed for the history curriculum.
Tensions have run high in Jefferson County schools since three conservative candidates were elected to the school board. These new board members have suggested an extensive rewrite of the way history is taught to the area’s students to a model they believe is more patriotic.
The right-leaning board-members said they believe history teachers should teach nationalism, respect for authority and reverence for free markets. They should avoid teaching any historical events or acts that promote “civil disorder, social strife or disregard of the law.”
Teachers objected to the proposed politicization of history in the classroom and staged a system-wide sick-out last week. Now, students are following their instructors’ lead.
Superintendent McMinimee said that he would forward the students’ letter to the school board and make their concerns known.
Conservatives around the country oppose the current federal AP history curriculum and exam because they believe that it is biased in favor of a liberal interpretation of history.
They complain that AP students are being taught a version of history that turns much of what is accepted as U.S. history on its ear and looks at the country’s history of oppression of ethnic minorities and the poor.
Retired New Jersey history teacher Larry S. Krieger told Newsweek, “As I read through the document, I saw a consistently negative view of American history that highlights oppressors and exploiters.”
Krieger is one of the conservative activists leading the charge to change textbooks across the country to reflect a more traditional view of U.S. history and American exceptionalism.
While the narrative may be “historically true,” he argues, “progressives are going to be the heroes in this narrative.”
High school AP history, he said, should be less like a college course and award more plaudits to the founding fathers, captains of industry and other conservative heroes. The liberal bias in the AP curriculum, he said, will turn students against large companies, corporations and wealthy Americans.
“What we have here is a repetition of a theme: There’s another problem, the progressives come to the rescue, and who are the villains?” he said. “Well, American companies are the villains, of course.”