Recent revisions to the Advanced Placement US History (APUSH) curriculum caused quite a stir in the conservative community, with the Republican National Committee claiming that the changes “reflect a radically revisionist view of American history that emphasizes negative aspects of our nation’s history while omitting or minimizing positive aspects.”
The RNC would prefer the country’s brightest students focus only on the positive aspects of American history and ignore more damning events from the past, like Japanese internment camps, widespread racism and segregation, and violations of civil liberties affecting everyone who wasn’t a white, property-owning male.
Teachers and students in Colorado, however, are standing up to conservative school board members and have been staging acts of civil disobedience in protest over the past few weeks. It began with a sick-out staged by more than 50 teachers in suburban Denver, and was followed a few days later by a walk-out of hundreds of students, The Guardian reported.
“I don’t think my education should be censored,” said Tori Leu, a 17-year-old student from Ralston Valley High School. “We should be able to know what happened in our past.”
Classes were canceled at two Jefferson County schools yesterday, after more than 70 percent of teachers called in sick at Golden and Jefferson High Schools. Students across the county have also organized a massive protest for tomorrow, planning to skip class altogether. October 1 is what’s known as a “count day,” a day the district submits attendance to the state to help determine per-student funding for upcoming years.
Jordan Gleason, a senior at Columbine High School said of the planned skip day, “If a thousand of us step out, even 10,000, if we can get that many students to step out, then we’re getting their attention and telling them that we have a voice.”
“It’s all in [the] numbers,” said Gleason. “One man, one vote, and there’s thousands of us.”
Julie Williams, a conservative member of the Jefferson County School Board, said of the APUSH curriculum:
“Materials should promote citizenship, patriotism, essentials and benefits of the free enterprise system, respect for authority and respects for individual rights. Materials should not encourage or condone civil disorder, social strife or disregard the law.”
Part of the problem with that idea is that many of America’s defining moments have involved all of the things Williams said should be discouraged. The country itself was founded by rebels who were essentially breaking numerous laws. The civil rights movement was largely successful because of acts of civil disobedience. And countless instances of social change have been a result of peaceful protests.
APUSH curriculum is determined by the College Board and not local or state boards of education. If districts in Colorado, or any state, refuse to teach the curriculum as provided by the College Board, they will not be allowed to teach the class period. Texas is considering banning the AP class all together, meaning that tens of thousands of students would miss out on a chance to earn college credit while still in high school. This outrage over documented facts shows just how little some in charge care about the truth.