Colorado Students ‘Strike’ Down District Proposals


Will Neary

“We learn about history so we can prevent it from repeating in the future…If we forget about that, we could very easily do it again,” sophomore Grant Aden said.

In the suburbs of Denver, Colorado, instead of filling the hallways at school, students stood along the streets, holding signs reading “There is nothing more patriotic than protest.”

Tension between students and staff grew when the Jefferson County school board brought up the idea to edit the AP U.S. History curriculum to only show America’s most positive moments. The board believed that these changes would increase patriotism and pride for their country within the students.

“There are things we may not be proud of as Americans. But we shouldn’t be encouraging our kids to think that America is a bad place,” Julie Williams, a member on the Jefferson County school committee said to Denver CBS Local.

Not everyone believed the changes would be positive, and students planned the protest over social media. On Sept. 23, the protests began.

Four hundred students walked out of class from Arvada High and 500 left Arvada West High. Two schools were closed including Golden High School, which was missing 75% of the teachers and 300 students.

“We’re going to do everything that we can to work with teachers, but the place that we draw the line is where they start taking things away from kids, and clearly today, was taking an opportunity [from] students to have a day of learning,” Dan McMinimee, the superintendent of Jefferson County, said, according to CPR Colorado.

On the other hand, the students believe that their education is taking more away from them with the proposal to ignore parts of American history, rather thinking that the strike is causing the attack against learning.

“I don’t think my education should be censored. We should be able to know what happened in our past,” Tori Leu, a student at Ralston Valley High School said to the Huffington Post.

Other students think that people will begin to slowly forget parts of American past.

“Everything that we’ve done is what allowed us to be at this point today. And if you take that from us, you take away everything that America was built off of,” Tyrone G. Parks, a senior from Arvada High School, said in an interview with Denver CBS Local.

These strong beliefs of censoring education do not only come out of Colorado. Students at West also have began to develop opinions on the controversy.

“Your history includes both your good and your bad. You can’t properly study history if you can’t study everything,” senior Jacob Goldblum said.

Others wonder whether they would have joined the strike if Parkway had made these changes.

“No [I would not have protested], I really don’t really care. I get taught what I get taught,” freshman Modern U.S. History student, Alyssa Obermeyer said. “It’s possible that there might be a few [protesters], but then again, the majority probably won’t protest.”

Jefferson County is not the only school protesting about curriculum changes. Students in Texas voiced concerns against textbook changes made by the Texas Board of Education, which included topics like capitalist enterprise, Republican politicians, and Christianity. As people watch the strikes in school districts, they question whether the strikes will inspire more schools to protest.

“If they see that these students have an impact and their voices are being heard [and] if there are students out there who are really firm with their opinions, they will be able to see [the students of Jefferson County] and what happened to them so it encourages them to stand up. [They say,] ‘I see that this works and now let me have a try,” freshman and Honors U.S. History student, Anna Chen said.

Jefferson County, after receiving nationwide press, came up a compromise. Last Thursday, the board announced they would be adding students to the review panel to agree on what should be cut from curriculum.

Despite their compromise, students still believe it is censoring their education and the agreement was not fair enough on their end, and protests continue.