Company behind AP high school courses voices strong support for JeffCo protesters

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DENVER -- The company behind Advanced Placement curricula and SAT tests issued a statement Friday afternoon in support of students protesting potential changes to Jefferson County Public Schools' AP U.S. History course.

"These students recognize that the social order can -- and sometimes must -- be disrupted in the pursuit of liberty and justice," College Board said. "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."

Remarkably, the statement seemed to warn JeffCo administrators that rewriting the curriculum to meet board member Julie Williams' suggested standards, which have sparked days of protests, would place the entire program in jeopardy.

"If a school or district censors essential concepts from an Advanced Placement course, that course can no longer bear the 'AP' designation," College Board wrote.

Students who pass AP tests in high school generally receive some form of college credit. If the AP designation were removed, the advanced history classes taught in JeffCo schools would presumably no longer qualify as college-level work.

College Board noted that in order to offer a course labeled “AP,” schools agree to a set of standards shared by more than 3,300 colleges and universities around the world. Local school districts agree not to make major changes on their own, the College Board said.

JeffCo School Board chairman Ken Witt issued a response late Friday:

"College Board would do well to research rather than rely on media reports," he wrote. "There has been no proposal to revise or 'censor aspects of the AP U.S. History course,' but only a proposal to review AP U.S. History curriculum to ensure thorough and balanced curriculum."

In an interview Thursday, JeffCo school board member Williams explained her new plan for a curriculum that “present(s) positive aspects of the United States, promote(s) patriotism and should not encourage or condone civil disorder, social strife or disregard of the law.”

“I'm not suggesting altering, omitting or censoring anything. I'm just asking for a committee to look at it,” she said. “I would ask, what is the fear at looking at this?”

In the interview, Williams made some seemingly incorrect statements regarding the existing curriculum:

"Let me give you some examples of who is omitted," she said. "Jefferson, Adams, Madison, Franklin with not even a mention of Martin Luther King Jr. It ignores lessons on the Boston Tea Party, Lexington, Jefferson's First Inaugural Address and Lincoln's Gettysburg Address.”

In fact, all of those people and events are included in textbooks used for the current course, FOX31 Denver found.

When asked about the apparent confusion, Williams noted that she had not reviewed all of the material.

“Even if they are in the textbooks it doesn’t mean the teachers teach it,” Williams said. “And this isn’t about teachers. This really goes back to the union bosses being upset about not having control over the process of our budget and the teachers pay.”

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