Hundreds of students walk out in largest JeffCo school board protest yet

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A student uses a bullhorn to walk out a protest of Chatfield and Dakota Ridge high school students, who were protesting a curriculum review proposal by the Jefferson County school board. (Credit: Twitter / Nic Garcia)

JEFFERSON COUNTY — Students walked out of four different Jefferson County high schools on Wednesday, marking the fourth and largest day of protests against decisions or proposals made by the district’s school board.

As many as 700 students left classes at Chatfield and Dakota Ridge high schools around 8 a.m. Students at Bear Creek High School also indicated they would be protesting Wednesday morning.

Later, students at Alameda International High School walked out after a meeting with JeffCo superintendent Dan McMinimee.

Since Friday, students have stood together in opposition of a JeffCo Board of Education proposal to review new Advanced Placement history curriculum that has been called “anti-American” by some conservatives.

On Monday, 100 students, mostly from Evergreen High School, marched to JeffCo district headquarters in protest, this coming after many teachers at Standley Lake and Conifer high schools called in sick or took vacation days Friday, forcing the district to cancel classes for the day.

On Tuesday, students at Pomona, Arvada West and Ralston Valley high schools walked out of class, as well.

Several hashtags — including #StandUp4Kids and #JeffcoStandUp — have popped up on Twitter featuring parents, students and bystanders speaking out against the new district policies and proposals.

RELATED: Proposed changes to U.S. history curriculum in JeffCo mocked on Twitter

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

That vote had 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.

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.

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.”

That proposal was tabled at the school board’s Sept. 18 meeting, and has since been amended, according to fellow board member John Newkirk, to exclude “the most controversial sections” of Williams’ initial proposal.

For her part, Williams issued a statement on Tuesday saying she was surprised by the negative reaction to the proposal, which is expected to come up for a vote at the next board meeting.

In the statement, Williams insisted “balance and respect for scholarship” is not censorship.

Williams has some like minds in the Republican National Committee, a group that has also criticized the new AP curriculum’s framework as omitting key aspects of U.S. history. That committee helped pass a review proposal that was similar to Williams’ in Texas.

After drawing outrage from parents and teachers, including over 16,000 signatures on a MoveOn.org petition, a fellow board member removed that language from the AP proposal last week.

Nathan Woodliff-Stanley, the executive director of Colorado’s division of the ACLU, also stands firmly against the proposal to review the AP curriculum, and had to chuckle at the response the proposal has drawn from the community.

“It’s ironic that an attempt to downplay examples of social change being accomplished through civil disobedience has spurred a community-wide crash course in just how important it is to be able to speak out and question authority in a just and democratic society,” Woodliff-Stanley said.

Despite the unrest, the district hopes to move forward soon.

“I think that there’s other ways that we can work through these differences (besides protests),” Superintendent Dan McMinimee said.

However, McMinimee is part of the problem in the eyes of many protesters.

The new Jefferson County superintendent was hired by the school board last year after the resignation of longtime superintendent Cindy Stevenson, who said she could not continue on as the newly-elected members of the board like Newkirk, Witt and Williams “did not respect me.”

McMinimee was the only candidate announced for the position, which angered many parents and teachers. McMinimee’s first proposed salary of $280,000 was also lambasted, and later reduced to $220,000, with up to $60,000 in incentives.

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12 comments

  • ghefley

    Open Letter to Fox News host Gretchen Carlson

    The very fact that your historic knowledge is so atrophied that you would not only condone such editing of the AP history books, but voice this hatred and vileness at these kids is extremely telling. These are AP books, readying the students for College Level History. At the COLLEGE LEVEL they will be confronted with and expected to know the information you are saying should be edited.

    This is not your political agenda! It is their future.

    The School Board is tasked and has accepted the Federal Money to have these AP classes. The purpose for the funds and the classes is the readiness of the student’s education. AP is Advanced Placement. This Board has taken the money, and is now refusing to teach what is expected for the AP class. This is called Fraud. So, you condone the act of Fraud being perpetrated on these kids, and then insult them when they refuse to accept being swindled.

    Is that American? To rip off money from the Government and then force your views against those who have been entrusted to you? Is that Patriotic?

    It doesn’t matter if it is or not.. it is Criminal. They have no right or authority to alter the curriculum given to the school by the AP program. They can give back the money and not have an AP program. That they can do. But you can’t have both.

    Fox News condoning and promoting this criminal actively is .. well.. almost expected.

    • Anonymous

      Seems to me you have there what is called a “red herring” argument or much to do about nothing. This is a duly-elected school board that is tasked, BY LAW, to promulgate and approve the curriculum for the district. They have called for a review of that curriculum and nothing more. So what is your problem? The truth is, this really isn’t about censorship or anything of the sort but about a Teachers’ Union not being in control of Jeffco anymore and they don’t like it. So they have fomented this little rebellion and have used all sorts of subterfuge to hide the true agenda. This is true Saul Alinsky and a union-backed mass truancy. That’s your criminal act.

  • John Donohue

    How about a compromise: back off the attempt to remove the detailing of the Progressive’s favored U.S. ‘atrocities’ traded off for a scathing examination and indictment of the ProgressiveProject which: took us off hard money and onto fiat currency; urges intentional inflation through deficit spending (as a ‘positive’ policy); ballooned government at all levels into the welfare state (65% of Fed outlay now goes to Social Incomes); and confiscates 50% of every dollar of successful people. Let’s get that into the AP History curriculum.

  • Protest just to Protest

    Hundreds Protest but only 15 take the AP classes that are in question. Something just doesn’t smell right and its coming from the teacher’s lounge

Comments are closed.