JeffCo School Board (in Colorado) Wants to Revise the AP U.S. History Curriculum… with the Help of Christians September 27, 2014

JeffCo School Board (in Colorado) Wants to Revise the AP U.S. History Curriculum… with the Help of Christians

Last year, three conservatives won seats on the Jefferson County Board of Education in Colorado, giving them a majority on the five-member board.

JeffCo School Board member Julie Williams

The community is now seeing the awful results of that election because the board wants to rethink the Advanced Placement U.S. History curriculum to make sure it’s being taught “properly”… which is to say they don’t want to stress the things that make our country look awful. Earlier this week, students led a protest over this rewriting (and whitewashing) of our own history:

Hundreds of students walked out of classrooms around suburban Denver on Tuesday in protest over a conservative-led school board proposal to focus history education on topics that promote citizenship, patriotism and respect for authority, in a show of civil disobedience that the new standards would aim to downplay.

The school board proposal that triggered the walkouts in Jefferson County calls for instructional materials that present positive aspects of the nation and its heritage. It would establish a committee to regularly review texts and course plans, starting with Advanced Placement history, to make sure materials “promote citizenship, patriotism, essentials and benefits of the free-market system, respect for authority and respect for individual rights” and don’t “encourage or condone civil disorder, social strife or disregard of the law.”

Given that the AP US History curriculum, like all AP courses, is standardized, not teaching children everything they’re required to know would only hurt them in the long run. Not only has the College Board (which runs all AP courses) spoken out against what the JeffCo school board is doing, they’ve warned them that if the curriculum is altered much, they risk losing the AP designation. That means students may miss out on college credit for the courses… which is basically the whole point of taking them.

It’s not like there isn’t already a committee to review the course, by the way. The problem is that it’s not as ideologically conservative as the board majority wants:

Jefferson County’s resource review committee, formed in 1997, is to include a “balance of citizens and educators” selected by the chief academic officer or designee and district leadership. Williams’ proposal differs in that the board would appoint members.

In other words, the committee already has citizens and academics who know what they’re talking about… but the board wants to add members to that committee who can steer the discussion in a more Jesus-y direction.

Don’t believe me? Last week, at the board’s regular meeting, a citizen pointed out that Williams had sent out an email to her friends saying that she needed people to be part of the committee. One of those friends — clearly understanding the unwritten language in Williams’ message — sent out another email urging Christians and conservatives to apply for the committee because “We must have more conservative members on this committee than progressives and liberals. Please help Julie fill the committee with godly people.”

Here’s the relevant portion of the board meeting:

We’ve seen all this happen before. Just a few years ago, in Texas, the State School Board became a laughingstock of the nation when Christian conservatives wanted schools to teach Creationism and the idea that we were created as a Christian nation. One of the advisors they brought on board to help them out was pseudo-historian David Barton.

Colorado and Jefferson County doesn’t need that. It was bad enough the first time. The Board needs to vote against Williams’ proposal and parents, teachers, and students need to pressure them until they do so.

On a side note, you should check out the brilliant #JeffCoSchoolBoardHistory hashtag. It’s hilarious.

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