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Evergreen High students take concerns to Jeffco headquarters

Evergreen High School students wait outside the Jeffco Public Schools Ed Center Monday morning. Some of their classmates met with Superintendent Dan McMinimee to discuss a proposed curriculum review committee.
Evergreen High School students wait outside the Jeffco Public Schools Ed Center Monday morning. Some of their classmates met with Superintendent Dan McMinimee to discuss a proposed curriculum review committee.
Nicholas Garcia

GOLDEN — For the second school day in a row, students rallied against a proposed curriculum review committee that they believe — if established — could lead to censorship.

Additional student-led protests are planned for Tuesday morning.

“We want to get the message across that we’re not going to let [the board] mess anything up for future generations,” said Dylan Losche, an Evergreen High School senior.

Students at Pomona, Arvada West and Ralston Valley high schools have launched social media campaigns to organize their events.

Superintendent Dan McMinimee said he neither condones nor condemns the rallies, but he would prefer, for safety reasons, students stay on campus.

“I will come to them,” he said after meeting with four students this morning. “I will go to any school that asks.”

The Evergreen High students, about 100 of them, repeated several of the concerns their peers from Standley Lake High made Friday.

They believe a community committee to review standards, assessments, and curriculum — in particular for an advanced history course — being considered by the Jefferson County Board of Education will prohibit lessons on civil disobedience and will only present the nation’s history in a positive light.

Conservative board member Julie Williams, who proposed the committee’s scope of work, said critics are reading too much into the proposal.

While McMinimee has not explicitly said he’s opposed to the panel, he did tell the board at its Thursday meeting the district has 24 different policies to establish and review which text books and lessons are taught. One policy includes how a parent can challenge a book in a library or a classroom.

The crux of the discussion between McMinimee, his staff, and the students, was to explain the board’s process.

Some students incorrectly believe that the board has already taken direct action to curtail the Advance Placement U.S. history course.

“I learned a lot about the process,” said Eric Temple, a senior at Evergreen. He knew the board hadn’t put the committee into place, but was unclear about what would happen next. “I thought I was pretty well researched — more than the average student.”

McMinimee said he hopes the students left feeling that they had been heard.

The students, who said their concerns have not been answered yet, plan on addressing the board at the next regularly scheduled board meeting, Oct. 2.

Meanwhile, Jeffco staff is continuing to monitor its teachers’ substitute requests. On Friday, the district canceled classes at two high schools because there wasn’t enough substitutes to cover the unusually high number of requests. About one-third of the teaching staff at both Standley Lake and Conifer high schools either called in sick or took a personal day in an apparent “sick out.”

All schools were open today. The number of call-ins was not out of the ordinary.

Teachers have grown increasingly frustrated with the school board’s majority. Earlier this month, the board’s chairman introduced a new compensation model that links bonuses to evaluations.

McMinimee said central office staff is working hurriedly to issue guidance to teachers on the compensation changes.

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