Last September I posted a piece entitled “The Kids Are All Right!” in which I praised high school students in Jefferson County, Colorado, who staged mass walkouts to protest a plan by their right-wing school board to establish a curriculum-review committee to not only respond to an allegedly “leftist” AP framework but to promote patriotism, respect for authority and free enterprise and to guard against educational materials that “encourage or condone civil disorder.” Two months later I posted a video created by some of those Colorado high school students. Now comes word that the conservative board members who sought to change the AP History curriculum are facing a recall effort. Here’s what the political blog Talking Points Memo reports:
Three conservative members of the Jefferson County school board in Colorado may face consequences for seeking unpopular changes to the AP U.S. History course last year.
Critics of the school board on Tuesday submitted more than double the number of petition signatures needed to order recall votes for three members of the school board in the November election, according to the Denver Post.
“The message is clear, the people of Jefferson County want to hold this board majority accountable and demand a recall vote on November 3,” Tina Gurdikian, one of the co-founders of Jeffco United For Action, the group that organized the petitions, said on Tuesday, according to Chalkbeat Colorado.
“They really are driving away our teachers by showing a great amount of disrespect for them,” Wendy McCord, Gurdikian’s co-founder at Jeffco United For Action said of the school board, according to the Associated Press. “They are dismissive of students and parents who have concerns and try to express them as well.”
The board members — Ken Witt, Julie Williams and John Newkirk — have been criticized by students and parents for their attempted changes to the AP U.S. History curriculum.
After the College Board released a new framework for the course, which was unpopular with conservatives across the country, the newly-elected conservative faction on the Jefferson County board of education attempted to alter the College Board’s changes. The JeffCo board set out to form a curriculum review committee that would make sure that the AP U.S. History course presented “positive aspects of the United States and its heritage” and did not “encourage or condone civil disorder, social strife or disregard of the law.”
Following massive student protests in Jefferson County, the board ultimately canceled its review of the AP history curriculum.
Jefferson County residents have also recently expressed disapproval of the board’s raise for the school district’s superintendent and their salary negotiations with teachers, according to the Denver Post.
The lesson is clear: student activism works. We need more of it.