Another Day, Another Massive Protest In Jefferson County

Photo via Twitter

The Denver Post's Jesse Paul reports, the student protests in Jefferson County over the new conservative school board majority's proposal to "review" new AP history curriculum raged again Thursday:

Nearly one thousand students from Columbine and Dakota Ridge high schools walked out of classes Thursday morning, punctuating the fourth straight day of Jefferson County school protests.

Students from Columbine, Lakewood, Bear Creek and Dakota Ridge high schools all walked out Thursday. It was the largest protest in what has been a week of escalating tensions between students and the school board…

Jefferson County School Board Chairman Ken Witt spoke to reporters near the Columbine protest.

"I think it's unfortunate presently to our students being used as pawns," Witt said. He also said he thought the student protests were a union tool and that students were being misled.

While Jefferson County school board conservatives defend their actions, the Post's Eric Gorski updates today on the broad range of divisive actions this new school board has taken, of which the latest "curriculum review" is the most recent example:

In the face of mass protests from students, members of the Jefferson County school board majority Wednesday defended a proposed curriculum committee and called it misunderstood, while signaling the most criticized elements are likely to be cut.

The proposed panel has emerged as the largest point of disagreement yet in the state's second-largest school district, a perennially high academic achiever that saw a conservative, reform-minded board majority voted in 10 months ago.

Like the election last November of three Republican board candidates who ran as a slate, the curriculum controversy is also an example of partisan politics playing a greater role in public education — in this case, involving a charged debate about changes in how Advanced Placement students are learning American history.

The angry denials from conservative board members in today's stories are severely undercut by the wording of the proposal. They are further undercut by fellow board member Julie Williams' stunning response to the protests, in which decries the new AP history curriculum's "emphasis on race, gender, class, ethnicity, grievance and American-bashing"–a diatribe more appropriate from fringe AM talk radio than the board of one of the state's largest and highest achieving school districts. According to Gorski's report, Williams' conservative colleagues John Newkirk and Ken Witt intend to cut the most offensive language from Williams' proposal: presumably, the stuff about how history courses should "not encourage or condone civil disorder, social strife or disregard of the law," and "present positive aspects of the United States and its heritage."

But the language in the proposal might be a sideshow to the real problem. Although Jefferson County has had curriculum reviews before, the committees involved were generally composed of education professionals and experts. This new proposal for a review of AP history simply calls for a majority vote by the school board. Since the current conservative majority took office, almost every decision made by the board has been a 3-2 party line vote. That means this committee could very easily be stacked by conservative political activists with no educational qualifications–which, incidentally, perfectly describes the new conservative majority on the Jeffco school board! And in case you're wondering if that's what the right really wants, check out this message sent from a supporter of Williams to prospective review committee members:


It's as bad as it looks, folks. Defensive bluster aside, the facts back up the concerns of the protesters. Last year, a failed education funding initiative brought out legions of conservative voters to vote against it, in the process installing a school board majority in Jefferson County that is distantly to the right of the population they are entrusted to serve. Today, however, the unexpected "bonus" of Amendment 66's crushing at the polls, a far-right school board majority in Jeffco, may blow back hard on conservatives in this electoral bellwether county–doing political damage far beyond anything they had hoped to gain.

Between here and there, we expect a lot more protests.

26 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. Early Worm says:

    I really hope that Witt, Williams, and Newkirk (and their attorney) stick to their plan. Appoint the committee, stack it with tea party wackos, and gut the APUSH curriculum.  The class will no longer be available. In their bubble, they think that they have the community's support and God is on their side. Unfortunately for them most voters do not watch Fox news and do not look admiringly at the Texas School system. Witt truly believes that the union thugs are orchestrating the student walkouts. The backlash which has already started with just gain momentum, and maybe there will be enough anger and alarm for a recall.

  2. BlueCat says:

    Never realized what a problem it must be finding conservatives in Jefferson County.

  3. DaftPunk says:

    Because only conservatives can be godly.

    • Conserv. Head Banger says:

      Well, you can consider me as one conservative that wants nothing to do with being "godly." Personally, I'm a non-theist.

      "This is the door that many of us have been praying for……..(as quoted in the article)."  When the fundamentalist tub-thumpers start to show up; and the Christian nation factors probably aren't far behind; then freedom and liberty are threatened. 

      • Craig says:

        You can count this as a Christian who isn't a "conservative" under the current definition of the word.  Nevertheless, I qualify for the committee since I am a Christian.  I encourage all Christian moderates and liberals to sign up for this committee.

        And by the way, congratulations to our students.  Just non-sense about civil disobedience.  Its as much a part of America as mom and apple pie and the flag and support for our troops.  These people are just like all their compatriots, they don't really believe in freedom.  They believe in enforcing their will against their fellow citizens and using the power of government to do it.


        The reality is that these knuckleheads have already hurt our school system.  Colleges take notice of this kind of non-sense and it makes a difference when their admissions are competitive.  Admissions officers will remember this for a long time and it will hurt our best and brightest.


        Finally, maybe the students should learn another lesson in history and practical politics.  How about a recall petition?  We can't stand these guys for another three years.  Throw the bums out.

  4. BlueCat says:

    Can't wait to hear the latest excuses for why this doesn't look bad at all. 

  5. horseshit GOP front group says:

    You know they're getting shelled when they call in the godlies.

  6. skeptical citizen says:

    Credit to Rebecca Klein at the Huffington Post for this 9/24/14 article "This Is The AP U.S. History Course Some Conservatives Want Dropped", including valuable links to a Practice Exam, as well as Course and Exam Description including Curriculum Framework.

    Would recommend careful review of the AP materials before leaping to conclusions.

    • DaftPunk says:

      On whose part?

      The criticisms raised by the cons in the links here are pure rubbish.  They claim Thomas Jefferson was omitted from the curriculum.  His name isn't mentioned, but the curriculum requires:

      …a college-level U.S. history textbook, diverse primary sources, and secondary sources written by historians or scholars interpreting the past…

      and teaching…

      The colonists’ belief in the superiority of republican self-government based on the natural rights of the people found its clearest American expression in Tomas Paine’s Common Sense and in the Declaration of Independence.

      Where are you going to find a college level history text that discusses these things without mentioning Jefferson?

      The claims of these detractors collapse on the most superficial skimming of the curriculum.  They don't have to list every single American hero to create a comprehensive history course.  These people are plainly full of shit.

      • BlueCat says:

        They have made it very clear that the curriculum is not to be seen as restricted only to the things mentioned in their guidelines. Over and over. While the extemist board has enumerated multiple restrictions.

  7. hawkeye says:

    Most conservatives are trying to preserve their fortune, not public morality.  Social conservatives by my guess are less than a third of all conservatives.  A far cry from the early '80s when Jerry Falwell was touting the Moral Majority.

  8. JeffcoDemo says:

    Now Williams admits she doesn't know anything about the current curriculum.  I.E. She hasn't been given that by the Koch brothers, yet.

  9. BlueCat says:

    I salute our students for keeping this in the media. Here's an excerpt from nice article:

    Hundreds of students marched Thursday in the fifth day of demonstrations against the Jefferson County school board, which oversees the second-largest school district in Colorado. Protests began last Friday after members of the board called for a review of the new Advanced Placement U.S. History (APUSH) curriculum to see whether it promotes "respect for authority" or encourages "civil disorder, social strife or disregard for the law."

    By Thursday, the protests had grown to include nearly 1,000 students from Columbine, Lakewood, Bear Creek and Dakota Ridge high schools.

    "There are substantial numbers of us who want honesty and integrity in all of our classrooms, not just AP U.S. History," Maggie Ramseur, a senior at Dakota Ridge High School, told The Huffington Post. "We fear that if the school board gets the power to change the APUSH curriculum, they will have the precedent to make even more dangerous and controlling changes to our education down the road. The policies they are suggesting are ridden with political agendas, something that belongs in our curriculum about as much as religious agendas do."

    The proposal in question would create a school board committee tasked with ensuring that all U.S. history materials taught in Jefferson County would "promote citizenship, patriotism, essentials and benefits of the free enterprise system, respect for authority and respect for individual rights." The proposal also says that instructional materials "should present positive aspects of the United States and its heritage." It directs the committee to inform the board of any "objectionable materials" it might encounter.

    Nathan Woodliff-Stanley, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Colorado, said his organization is keeping a close watch on what he called an attempt to implement an "ideologically motivated" review of the district's history curriculum.

    "State-funded school [curricula] should promote academic integrity, not ideological agendas," Woodliff-Stanley said. "A committee that polices educational materials for insufficient devotion to patriotism or a lack of respect for authority runs the real danger of substituting propaganda for education."

  10. Early Worm says:

    If the Senate race comes down to a few thousand votes or less, and it just may, and Udall wins, is he going to thank Williams? She is a real asset to the Dems right now.

  11. DawnPatrol says:

    So interesting and curious that our resident RWNJ trolls, so big of mouth typically, remain so conspicuously absent from these JeffCo School Board threads….

  12. Harley says:

    These young men and women need to widen out their protests to include the homes of the board members in their "nice/quiet conservative neighborhoods".

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