JEFFERSON COUNTY, Colo. -- The conservative Jefferson County School Board majority passed a modification to the current curriculum review. The committee will include students and members of the community.
The fierce fight over curriculum in Jefferson County Schools has sparked weeks of protests that have gained national attention. The focal point has been AP U.S. History, but other classes are part of the plan as well.
The Democrats in the board minority opposed the change because the committee will now report directly to the board instead of the administration.
The heated debate took on a new intensity Thursday night at the school board's meeting. Several hundred people showed up to voice their opposition and support for what board members want to do. The rallies and protests started outside Thursday afternoon.
And then the meeting, which was expected to go late into the night, started.
“I hope that this was a defining moment for this board, that there is not one member up here that would support censorship,” board member Julie Williams said. She's the one who proposed a review committee look at the AP U.S. History curriculum that launched the protests.
For two hours Thursday night she heard from students, parents and teachers about their distrust of a curriculum review committed for AP U.S. History and other classes that would promote patriotism and discourage civil disorder.
“Let me say to Ms. Williams, thank you for your lesson in civil disobedience. What I have learned from you is there is a time and place for civil disobedience and that time is right now,” student Eric Temple said.
Another board member stripped the controversial language from the review committee proposal prior to Thursday's meeting, and some in attendance did show support for that.
“The citizen committee for the Jeffco board of education needs to be a committee separate from the established Jeffco Public School system.”
But the vast majority of students and parents remain worried that the conservative board majority would use that committee to change AP U.S. History and other classes.
“I want U.S. AP History to be available for my children. Slap a warning label on it for those who fear critical thinking, but don’t limit my children’s educational choices,” parent Lisa Cook said.
“What’s next? Are you going to choose science? Are you going to take down English?” student Jackson Curtis asked. “We already have two committees that do just this, they review the curriculum for the district,” he said.
The fact is Jeffco does already have two committees in place to review curriculum and Thursday night Superintendent Dan McMinimee proposed that the board simply keep that structure and add input from the community and students.
But with the vote still up in the air, students presented a nationwide petition to the board just in case the conservative majority goes its own way. “We have 40,000 people across the country who sided with us, in saying this is wrong.”