High school students near Denver, Colorado, are walking out of class, but not because they don't want to learn.
Proposed changes to the Jefferson County school board's AP US History curriculum, which would force teachers to emphasize patriotism and downplay civil unrest, have inspired nearly 1,000 students to stage walk-out protests demanding a fairer and more honest education.
Students started protesting earlier this month when word got out that members of the school board were reviewing the Advanced Placement U.S. History curriculum to make sure that it promotes "respect for authority" and patriotism without encouraging "civil disorder" or "disregard for the law." By Thursday (September 25) they were on their fourth day of protesting.
"People think because we are teenagers, we don't know things, but we are going home and looking things up," said Savanna Barron, a senior at Lakewood High School, to the Denver Post. "If they don't teach us civil disobedience, we will teach ourselves."
A conservative majority recently won the election run the Jefferson County school board, and this is only one of the forms of protest that has erupted since then. Nearly 50 teachers called in sick or took a personal day recently to protest, and the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office said they're even investigating threats against school board member's children.
Maggie Ramseur, a senior at Dakota Ridge High School, told the Huffington Post that students are worried about the precedent a curriculum change could set for their schools.
"There are substantial numbers of us who want honesty and integrity in all of our classrooms, not just AP U.S. History," Ramseur said. "We fear that if the school board gets the power to change the APUSH curriculum, they will have the precedent to make even more dangerous and controlling changes to our education down the road. The policies they are suggesting are ridden with political agendas, something that belongs in our curriculum about as much as religious agendas do."
The College Board, which administers AP tests in high schools around the country, recently expressed support for the protesting teens, saying that censored courses can't use the AP designation.
These students are already making a difference as they stand up — and walk out — for their right to learn. They organized their protests through Facebook and staged them at different intervals throughout the day to have a more dramatic effect.
For right now, the proposals have been tabled.