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Colorado students: Keep your political agenda out of our education

High schoolers in Colorado walked out to protest proposed curriculum changes that would have altered the way American history is presented in class, and they rock for doing so.

Proposed curriculum changes have ignited a spark of protest in several schools in Jefferson County, Colorado. Students are flocking from schools because they say Jeffco School Board wants to change what the history classes teach — namely, in certain history classes, they want to include positive historical facts and omit stories about civil disobedience and unrest. In other words, they want to rewrite the true course of American history.

The proposal, authored by school board member Julie Williams, reads in part, “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.”

The courses in question are the AP (advanced placement) history classes, which are typically designed for college-bound kids who are good students. I have to say that these teens are really with it — I’m not sure I would have even been aware of proposed curriculum changes within my school district. Times are different now, and social media and involved parents play a role in modern families getting the information they need.

When I was a teen, I certainly wouldn’t have been as on-point as Debbie Velarde is. She is a junior at Wheat Ridge High School, and she told 7News Denver, “Our entire history, things that changed America for the better, were acts of civil disobedience.”

There are complaints from the general public about the kids using it as an excuse to get out of school, and I’m sure that is the case for some, but the majority of the teens are saying what they’ve been told for years — they need to learn history, because those who don’t are destined to repeat it.

Carefully selecting textbooks that highlight only the positives is silly, and I might even say it’s dangerous. Editing the past and teaching that to the next generation seems like something that would happen in another country, one without the same freedoms we are afforded in the U.S.

Teaching the history of our country won’t incite riots and civil disobedience. Taking away the truth, however, has ironically inspired protests. Teens aren’t stupid, and many know the importance of an honest, unbiased education. Also, and most importantly, you can still be a good citizen and protest what you think is wrong.

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