GOLDEN — Jefferson County students, upset over how their board of education redesigned a curriculum review committee, interrupted the school board’s proceedings tonight by reading aloud from their history books.
About 10 students either read out of turn about historical figures, known for acts of civil disobedience, at a podium or from their seats. Another dozen students also recited the Pledge of Allegiance before making a mass exit.
All students left peacefully. No arrests were made.
As part of their demonstration, the students said they had four demands: a public apology from the school board’s conservative majority for referring to students as “union pawns;” a reversal of an earlier decision to amend content review policies; proof from the board that they listen and act on community input instead of what students called an “ideological” agenda; and more resources for classroom instruction.
Some of the students, members of the recently-formed Jeffco Students for Change, played a role in organizing a weeks worth of walkouts at their individual high schools.
The walkouts at each of Jeffco’s neighborhood high school were also in response to curriculum review committee. At the time, board member Julie Williams was requesting a new committee be established by the board. She hoped the new panel would review an advanced history course she believed was unpatriotic. Critics of Williams’ proposal believed her intentions were to censor some of the nation’s less flattering moments.
Ultimately, under the eye of international media outlets like The New York Times and The Guardian, the Jeffco board amended existing policies that govern how the district responds to concerns about classroom content. Those changes include adding students and board-appointed members to a panel to review materials, and putting the review process under the auspice of the school board.
Board chairman Ken Witt called the 3-2 vote a compromise. But vocal teachers, parents, and students didn’t buy it.
In fact, the same students who disrupted tonight’s board meeting earlier held a weekend rally to gauge interest in a recall election for the board’s majority. There has been no further public discussion on that matter.