After conservatives across the country were upset about the new AP history curriculum nationwide, Julie Williams a conservative member of Jefferson County, Colorado proposed a review of the AP teachings.
The resolution that sparked outrage in Colorado
Her resolution stated that AP history classes should promote “patriotism and … the benefits of the free-enterprise system” and should not “encourage or condone civil disorder.” That didn’t go over too well in Jefferson County, Colorado’s second-largest school district. While the district elected a conservative board in 2013, it’s not a conservative district by any means.
The proposed review sparked a walkout by around 100 students at Standley Lake High School and that protest has spread over the last two weeks with students at over a dozen high schools walking out of their classes. Four high schools were also forced to close when teachers showed their solidarity with the students over the proposed changes and staged “sick-outs.”
“The negative parts of American history aren’t necessarily unpatriotic,” says student Ben Smith who participated in the first protest at Standley High. “We need to know those things so we don’t repeat them in the future.”
Conservatives V. education
Larry Krieger, a retired New Jersey high school teacher, is leading the national crusade against the AP history curriculum and testified before the Colorado school board via video conference.
“The founders are not discussed,” he says. “Ben Franklin: not there. James Madison: not there.”
Fred Anderson, a history professor at the University of Colorado, finds this preposterous. Mr. Anderson was one of those asked to work on the AP history guidelines.
“[AP History Teachers} are usually the very best teachers in a school. You don’t have to tell them to talk about Wilson and Madison, and Franklin and Washington at the Constitutional Convention — they do that,” he says. “They would find it incredibly condescending to be directed at that level, so the absence of mention is not in any sense an exclusion — and it’s a misconception, I think, about the framework that that’s the case.”
With hundreds in attendance last night the school board voted 3 to 2 to allow students, parents, and teachers to be involved in the curriculum discussion and Williams, given the national attention her resolution sparked, was quick to backtrack following the vote.
“My proposal was aimed to increase community engagement and transparency so people do know what is being taught to their children,” she said. “We want increased transparency, increased accountability and increased community engagement.”
Given her resolution, those comments are laughable at best.