ARVADA, Colo., Sept. 24 (UPI) -- In Colorado's second-largest county, students and teachers are staging protests over the actions of a newly conservative school board.
Hundreds of students walked out of classes from five different Jefferson County high schools Tuesday, taking to the street to hold signs and soliciting supportive honks from passing cars. The action followed a teacher protest Friday where two schools had to be closed after 50 teachers called in sick, and a 100-student protest at Evergreen High School Monday.
At issue were proposed changes to the curriculum, which would include a new committee to promote "positive aspects" of U.S. history and avoid material to encourage or condone "civil disorder, social strife or disregard of the law."
The school board's proposed changes, in turn, are in response to the new Advanced Placement U.S. History course frameworks introduced by the College Board this year. Those guidelines have drawn criticism from conservative groups, including the Republican National Committee, who complain that the new framework "reflects a radically revisionist view of American history that emphasizes negative aspects of our nation's history while omitting or minimizing positive aspects."
Last year, three new conservative members were voted in to the board, taking a majority on the five-seat panel. A series of 3-2 votes have lead to accusations of the new members steamrolling the interests of the whole community.
"We've had conservatives on our board before," said Michele Patterson, the president of the district's parent-teacher association. "They were wonderful. These people, they're not interested in balance or compromise. They have a political agenda that they're intent on pushing through."
School board president Ken Witt said the specific language could still be cut, insisting the intent of the new rules were to improve student achievement and reward teachers for their success.
"I would rather be able to do those things without conflict, but at the end of the day, it's very important that we align with those goals," he said. "A lot of those words were more specific and more pointed than they have to be."
While nothing has been finalized yet, students are clearly concerned of what the "positive aspects" committee would cull from their history classes.
They held signs reading "It's world history, not white history," and "Civil disobedience is patriotism" while parents brought more poster boards, markers and bottles of water for the demonstrators.
At Pomona, 400 students told reporters they were only asking for access to the truth, chanting "It's our history, don't make it a mystery!"
And Outside Arvada West, more than 300 students demonstrated in what they insisted was an entirely student-led, but teacher- and parent-encouraged effort.
"As we grow up, you always hear that America's the greatest, the land of the free and the home of the brave," said senior Leighanne Grey. "For all the good things we've done, we've done some terrible things. It's important to learn about those things, or we're doomed to repeat the past."