Students protest, but JeffCo schools remain open

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JEFFERSON COUNTY -- Classes on Friday were cancelled at two Jefferson County schools due to a rash of teachers protesting by calling in sick, and though the school district feared more of the same on Monday, those fears did not materialize.

School district officials sent an email to staff citing "sources" that suspected teachers at several schools were organizing "sick outs" for both Friday, Sept. 19 and Monday.

However, shortly before 8 a.m., school district officials issued the following tweet.

While it no teachers protested Monday, over 100 Evergreen High School students stood outside the Jefferson County Superintendent's building Monday morning, and a handful of those students were eventually granted an audience with Superintendent Dan McMinimee.

The teacher and student protests began last week after the school board approved a controversial teacher-pay model and made a proposal to revise the district's Advanced Placement U.S. History curriculum to highlight positive aspects of American History and discourage things like civil disobedience.

A large group of students at Standley Lake High School joined their teachers in protest Friday, standing outside their high school with picket signs. According to several Facebook groups started by students at Pomona and Arvada West high schools, more student protests were planned for Monday.

Given the number of students protesting in the past several days, it seemed civil disobedience was jumping out of the textbooks and into practice in Jefferson County.

A great deal of the teachers in the district would likely support their students' actions, considering the group issued a unanimous vote of "no confidence" in school board chairman Ken Witt earlier this month.

That vote seemed to have a great deal to do with a new teacher pay model, which was signed by the board last week before the first day of "sick outs" at Standley Lake and Conifer high schools.

Under the new pay model, the starting teacher’s salary will go up about $5,000 a year, but raises will be determined based on performance. Teachers rated as ineffective or partially effective would receive only a one percent raise or the possibility of no raise at all.

“We want to make sure that all of our effective and highly effective teachers get good compensation increases this year, after having no raises for while," Witt said on Friday. "I was delighted with that outcome and that final compensation plan and very disappointed this morning to see that some of our teachers chose not to show up to work at two of our schools.”

In addition to Facebook groups, several hashtags -- including #StandUp4Kids and #JeffcoStandUp -- have popped up on Twitter featuring parents, students and teachers speaking against the new district policies.

Though the teacher pay model was signed by the school board, the board proposal to revise the district's AP History curriculum is yet to come up for a vote.

In her proposal to form a committee for AP curriculum review, conservative JeffCo board member Julie Williams wrote, “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.”

After outrage from many parents and teachers, including 8,000 signatures on a MoveOn.org petition, a fellow board member removed that language from the AP proposal last week.

McMinimee informed the Evergreen students he met with Monday that he sees no need for an AP curriculum review, and that he would pass their letter on to the school board.

In the letter, the students voiced concern that the school board was seeking to sweep certain parts of the AP curriculum "under the rug."

"I want honesy in my classroom," the students' note read.

The proposal to review the AP History curriculum will likely be voted on in the coming weeks.

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6 comments

  • Robyn Pearson

    Students, while you’re at, insist they teach an accurate history curriculum that teaches truth not the fiction and bias-only found in books like “American History, A Survey” by Alan Brinkley!

  • Jim

    The protests show just how badly these kids need an education and haven’t been getting one under Communist Core and the liberal teachers that they’ve been brainwashed into propping up. Gaurantee its the teacher’s union behind the entire effort. These are the kids that can’t even make change at Burger King. They are being used as tools by the unconscionable leftists infesting our schools, the same leftists that have lowered the quality of education over the last several decades.

    Fact is, teaching proper economics, real math, pros and cons of American history (not just the cons) will serve them better in the market place than carpeting “Ms Smith’s” classroom with flowers. Kudos to Jeffco School Board for pushing to put quality back into education.

  • Jamie

    Faking Sick is a dischargeable offense in any industry.

    Did this generation of HS students come out smarter and more concerned about education than students before them?

    I think not. I think they are the same students that have been attending HS as years past …. except we didn’t have bad influences called TEACHERS

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