Teachers at Standley Lake High School and Conifer High School in Jefferson County, Colorado called in sick on Friday over contract disputes and disputes over the curriculum. The curriculum, for Advanced Placement History, attempts to white wash history to erase any evidence of historical strife and instead call for only teaching about patriotism, the free market, obedience to authority and respect for individual rights.
Jefferson County schools are proposing a panel to oversee the schools. Parents and teachers both fear the panel will be a tool for censorship. The panel will have nine members, who will be appointed by the district’s conservative school board. They will probably not be educators or education specialists.
The first class they are expected to tackle is AP American history because their current curriculum, which was put in place in June, teaches about the years beyond the Revolutionary and Civil wars and focuses on the contributions of women and minorities. It also teaches about the strife and disobedience it took to get where we are today.
Of course, conservatives want none of that. Their children should only learn American exceptionalism and forget about the parts where America has been on the wrong side of history.
The new curriculum under review is a simple one page. It reads:
Theories should be distinguished from fact (everything scientific is a theory). Materials should promote citizenship, patriotism, essentials and benefits of the free enterprise system, respect for authority and respect for individual rights. Materials should not encourage or condone civil disorder, social strife or disregard of the law. Instructional materials should present positive aspects of the United States and its heritage. Content pertaining to political and social movements in history should present balanced and factual treatment of the positions.
The PTA President, Michele Patterson, asked, “does that mean we’re going to eliminate slavery from class discussions, because that wasn’t a particular positive time of our history? Hiroshima didn’t necessarily look great.”
Neither do the Japanese interments, Vietnam, the Ludlow Massacre, Dred Scott, the crash of the stock market, McCarthyism or Iraq.
If you think the Koch brothers are behind this, you’re right. They want to take over education so they can get even richer:
Education policy is now a major site of direct and proxy political power struggles in Colorado, as elsewhere. It’s no surprise. Public education is a vast government project, a source of great cultural power and also a market-sector where billions of dollars flow, paying for teachers, administrators, counselors, buildings, books and lunches and so on. As with health care and energy, education has become an area of public policy where powerful free-market interests are looking to rally grassroots Americans to their cause, which is why groups like the oil-billionaire Koch brothers-funded Americans for Prosperity are now launching issue campaigns and promoting position papers and backing local school board candidacies with the kind of money that used to be reserved for legislative or even statewide races. Observers are understandably wary — of the policy proposals being put forward but also of the motives of the would-be reformers.
Source: Colorado Independent
Colorado is not the only state where this is happening. Texas, where a lot of the textbooks are printed, is having the same struggle. Conservatives in Texas believe that the AP exam is “rife with liberal themes and focusing on the negative aspects of U.S. history. Some have even likened it to “mind control” engineered by the federal government.
In Colorado, the curriculum has not been finalized. On the table is also an increase in minimum pay for teachers and modest pay raises (between 2.43 and 4.25 percent) for all teachers.