Two years ago, three conservatives won seats on the Jefferson County Board of Education in Colorado, giving them a majority on the five-member board.
With that majority, Ken Witt, Julie Williams, and John Newkirk openly discussed their plans to revise the curriculum for Advanced Placement U.S. History to make sure it was taught “properly.” They said they didn’t want to “encourage or condone civil disorder, social strife or disregard of the law,” which is the process many famous Americans have used to spearhead change.
It’s worth noting that the AP U.S. History curriculum is standardized and solidified in advance, like all AP courses. Altering the curriculum would hurt students taking those classes since they wouldn’t learn everything they need to know for the end-of-year exam, leading them to possibly miss out on college credit for the courses. The College Board (which runs all AP courses) spoke out against what the school board was proposing, warning them that if the curriculum was altered much, they risked losing the AP designation entirely.
Students staged walk-outs, teachers staged teach-outs, and the board members were savaged on Twitter at the time. But while the proposed curriculum revision never went anywhere, it wasn’t clear anything would change permanently. While those conservatives remained on the school board, the bad policy ideas weren’t going to stop. The same board members tied teacher salary to performance rather than seniority (which is more controversial than it sounds), were accused of meeting in private outside of meetings, and significantly raised the salary of a new superintendent.
Thankfully, voters in Jefferson County had enough support to hold a recall election on Tuesday — and they were ultimately successful in getting rid of the conservatives on the board:
In a statement released after the vote became final, middle-school teacher and Jefferson County Education Association president John Ford said, “We couldn’t be more pleased with the election results tonight because it means a return to a culture of working together to improve teaching and learning for all kids. Quite honestly, the old board lost their seats because they didn’t respect the community’s voice and rammed through an unpopular agenda.”
Good riddance. Because the two other board members didn’t run for re-election, an entirely new board will be sworn in within a couple of weeks. Good for the people of Jefferson County for organizing and overthrowing ideologues who were mostly interested in advancing an agenda instead of doing what was best for students.
(Screenshot via The Denver Post. Thanks to Brian for the link. Portions of this article were published earlier)