25 September 2014

Jefferson County School Board Catastrophically Failing

In Jefferson County, Colorado, a first ring suburb of Denver that is home to the second largest school district in the state, a slate of three conservative Republicans with a strong partisan agenda took control of the Jefferson County School Board in the November 2013 election.

Their efforts to impose a conservative agenda on the district have met immense resistance.  There have been school board process disputes.  The Superintendent resigned early and was replaced in a manner that didn't follow the usual channels.  The teachers union and its non-union member allies who are teachers offered up a unanimous vote of no confidence in the principal.  An informally coordinated teacher "sick out" by 50 teachers at two schools forced those two high schools to close.  Now, the district is in a fourth consecutive day of walk outs by hundreds of students at four different high schools that is only gaining momentum.

The most recent revolts revolve around a proposal by the conservatives to change the curriculum of AP History.  The board proposal would require teachers to teach material presenting the "positive aspects" of "U.S. heritage" that promote citizenship, patriotism, the essential and benefits of the free enterprise system, respect for authority and respect for individual rights," while not encouraging or condoning "civil disorder, social strife or disregard of the law."

Apparently, topics such as the Revolutionary War, labor strife, woman's suffrage, the Civil War, the civil rights movement, the Progressive movement, Vietnam War protests, Nixon's resignation, the Great Depression and the New Deal are all now inappropriate to teach in Jefferson County classrooms.

The blatant partisan effort to manipulate history in a course that already has a nationally mandated curriculum hasn't gone over well with students or teachers.

The Jefferson County partisan takeover with disastrous results follows a similar move a few years earlier in exurban Douglas County, which has also led to strife and has dramatically reduced the quality of the school district there.

In both communities, historically, strong schools had been a major draw to bring affluent families to the respective school districts, but the partisan Republican takeovers of the institutions have left these areas as undesirable places for affluent families to move if they care about their children's educations.

The Denver Post and JeffCo Pols have extensive coverage of these developments.  The Colorado Independent discusses developments with links to national coverage.  A critical point:

Will the JeffCo school board sour critical independent voters in Jefferson County on the entire Republican county ticket in a county critical to GOP efforts to regain control of the state house?

1 comment:

andrew said...

Daily Kos has good coverage with mention of the related Douglas County events.