Hundreds of Colorado Students Protest History Curriculum Changes; Say 'Don't Erase Our History'

( [email protected] ) Sep 24, 2014 02:56 PM EDT
U.S. History
Students hold up signs protesting the proposed curriculum changes regarded United States history (New York Times)

Hundreds of students recently gathered in a Denver suburb to protest a school board proposal to focus history education on issues that would promote patriotism, respect for authority and free enterprise and to prevent educational materials that "encourage or condone civil disorder."

The New York Times reports that on Tuesday, students hailing from high schools across Jefferson County, the second largest school district in Colorado, poured out of school and into the suburbs, waving signs and American flags to emphasize the importance of learning about tumultuous chapters of American history.

"It's gotten bad," said Griffin Guttormsson, a junior at Arvada High School told the New York Times. "The school board is insane. You can't erase our history. It's not patriotic. It's stupid."

The demonstration was organized by word of mouth and social media after the school board proposed instructional materials that present only positive aspects of the United States and its history. In addition, 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 strike or disregard of the law."

"I don't think my education should be censored. We should be able to know what happened in our past," said Tori Leu, a 17-year-old student who protested at Ralston Valley High School in Arvada.

The curriculum modification, which has not yet been voted on, was proposed by board member Julie Williams.

"There are things we may not be proud of as Americans," she said. "But we shouldn't be encouraging our kids to think that America is a bad place."

A student demonstrator, Tyrone G. Parks, a senior at Arvada High School, argued that nation's foundation was built on civil protests.

"Everything that we've done is what allowed us to be at this point today," he told Fox News.

" And if you take that from us, you take away everything that America was built off of."

"As we grow up, you always hear that America's the greatest, the land of the free and the home of the brave," added senior Leighanne Grey. "For all the good things we've done, we've done some terrible things. It's important to learn about those things, or we're doomed to repeat the past."

Participating students were not punished, school district spokeswoman Lynn Setzer said. They will receive unexcused absences unless their parents call to relay permission for missed classes, Setzer said.

Superintendent Dan McMinimee says he has met with students and is open to a continued discussion on the issue.

"I respect the right of our students to express their opinions in a peaceful manner," he said. "I do, however, prefer that our students stay in class."