Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

If you’ve been waiting for the right time to support our work—that time is now.

Our mission is simple: To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good.

But without the support of our readers, this model does not work and we simply won’t survive. It’s that simple.
We must meet our Mid-Year Campaign goal but we need you now.

Please, support independent journalism today.

Join the small group of generous readers who donate, keeping Common Dreams free for millions of people each year. Without your help, we won’t survive.

While hundreds squeezed into the school board meeting room, others gathered with signs outside. (Photo: @Ed4Colorado/Twitter)

Students, Teachers Turn Out in Force Against Censorship of History

Hundreds pack Colorado school board meeting, voicing their discontent and winning a partial victory

Deirdre Fulton

Several hundred students, community members, and educators packed a Jefferson County Board of Education meeting in suburban Denver on Thursday night, lambasting the conservative-majority board's proposal to censor the district’s history curriculum.

The proposal—to establish a committee that would review course materials to ensure they promote patriotism and avoid encouragement of "civil disorder, social strife or disregard of the law"—was the catalyst for two weeks of student walk-outs and teacher 'sick-outs,' the latter of which closed several high schools on two days in September.

Since September 19, thousands of high-schoolers have taken to the streets with signs reading, "How will we learn from our mistakes if you don't teach us about them?" and "Keep your politics out of my education."

They were similarly vocal during a two-hour public comment period Thursday evening. The Denver Post reports:

Students were first to take to the microphone. Many decried board president Ken Witt's characterization of the students as "pawns" of teachers and their union after thousands walked out of class over the last couple of weeks to protest the proposed committee.

"We find it insulting that you say that we are pawns of anyone else," said Chatfield High senior Ashlyn Maher. "It is our education that is at stake."

Two students from Standley Lake High presented the board with boxes filled with 40,000 signatures gathered online from people opposed to the curriculum committee concept.

While board member Julie Williams, who has cited the Texas Board of Education as a model, refused to recall the proposal entirely, the protests appeared to have brought about a partial victory.

Early Thursday morning, in advance of the board meeting, superintendent Dan McMinimee sent a letter (pdf) to board members proposing a compromise: rather than establish a new committee, McMinimee suggested reorganizing existing curriculum review groups in the district to involve more student, teacher, and community voices.

That compromise proposal—stripped of the controversial section about patriotism and civil disorder—was successful Thursday night. But not everyone viewed it as a win.

According to the Associated Press:

As the board voted 3-2 Thursday night to expand the membership on two existing curriculum review committees to include students, parents and administrators, some in the audience yelled "resign" and "recall, recall."

The two women on the board who oppose the panel's conservative majority held their heads in their hands after losing a bid to delay the vote so they could have more time to study the plan.

Many students and parents remain dissatisfied with the board's actions. 

"Last night, Witt, Newkirk, and Williams bought some time," an anonymous blogger wrote at the highly critical JeffCo Board Watch site, referring to the three conservative school board members. "Time, they hope, for the furor to die down. Time, they hope, for the press to go away. Time, they hope, for you to forget the fact that they want the ability to indoctrinate our children."

JeffCo Board Watch is calling for community members to join and help build a network that would monitor the board and eventually launch a recall effort. 

JeffCo parents were planning additional protests on Friday. According to a local ABC News affiliate, "The parent organizing the protest said... it was against this 'board majority—who time and time again—refuses to listen to their constituents and disrespects students/parents/teachers. These board members should believe in the institution they were elected to represent—clearly they don't.'"

Indeed, many have observed that this fight is about much more than curriculum changes.

"The controversy over a history curriculum in Colorado is an argument over a very much bigger issue," public education expert Jeff Bryant wrote Thursday at the Education Opportunity Network blog. "It’s about how we’re treating our nation’s youngest citizens with a substandard form of education that emphasizes fiscal efficiency over learning opportunity and standardization over individual needs and interests. And it’s about how we treat students as learners, imposing education as something done to them rather than with them."


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

"I'm sure this will be all over the corporate media, right?"
That’s what one longtime Common Dreams reader said yesterday after the newsroom reported on new research showing how corporate price gouging surged to a nearly 70-year high in 2021. While major broadcasters, newspapers, and other outlets continue to carry water for their corporate advertisers when they report on issues like inflation, economic inequality, and the climate emergency, our independence empowers us to provide you stories and perspectives that powerful interests don’t want you to have. But this independence is only possible because of support from readers like you. You make the difference. If our support dries up, so will we. Our crucial Mid-Year Campaign is now underway and we are in emergency mode to make sure we raise the necessary funds so that every day we can bring you the stories that corporate, for-profit outlets ignore and neglect. Please, if you can, support Common Dreams today.

 

'A Hate Crime': Oslo Pride Parade Canceled After Deadly Shooting at Gay Bar

A 42-year-old gunman has been charged with terrorism following what Norway's prime minister called a "terrible and deeply shocking attack on innocent people."

Kenny Stancil ·


'We WILL Fight Back': Outrage, Resolve as Protests Erupt Against SCOTUS Abortion Ruling

Demonstrators took to the streets Friday to defiantly denounce the Supreme Court's right-wing supermajority after it rescinded a constitutional right for the first time in U.S. history.

Brett Wilkins ·


80+ US Prosecutors Vow Not to Be Part of Criminalizing Abortion Care

"Criminalizing and prosecuting individuals who seek or provide abortion care makes a mockery of justice," says a joint statement signed by 84 elected attorneys. "Prosecutors should not be part of that."

Kenny Stancil ·


Progressives Rebuke Dem Leadership as Clyburn Dismisses Death of Roe as 'Anticlimactic'

"The gap between the Democratic leadership, and younger progressives on the question of 'How Bad Is It?' is just enormous."

Julia Conley ·


In 10 Key US Senate Races, Here's How Top Candidates Responded to Roe Ruling

While Republicans unanimously welcomed the Supreme Court's rollback of half a century of reproductive rights, one Democrat said "it's just wrong that my granddaughter will have fewer freedoms than my grandmother did."

Brett Wilkins ·

Common Dreams Logo