The kids are alright.
Hundreds of Colorado high school students, along with their teachers and parents, staged a walk-out yesterday, spanning at least seven high schools in the Jefferson County School District to protest a planned whitewashing and manipulation of their curriculum and history classes by a conservative school board beholden to the Koch brothers' political and social agenda. Students from Arvada, Evergreen, Ralston, Pomona, Wheat Ridge, Lakewood, Chatfield and other schools walked out of their classrooms to join the protests, following one organized by the teachers themselves last Friday, as described and detailed in these Recommended Diaries.
ARVADA, Colo. — A new conservative school board majority here in the Denver suburbs recently proposed a curriculum-review committee to promote patriotism, respect for authority and free enterprise and to guard against educational materials that “encourage or condone civil disorder.” In response, hundreds of students, teachers and parents gave the board their own lesson in civil disobedience.
, which specifically subjects the schools' history coursework to a "review" by the Republican-dominated Board, has not yet been voted on and was put on hold last week in light of the outcry it has spawned. Yesterday the students, organized on their own through social media and word-of-mouth, had their say in the matter:
On Tuesday, hundreds of students from high schools across the Jefferson County school district, the second largest in Colorado, streamed out of school and along busy thoroughfares, waving signs and championing the value of learning about the fractious and tumultuous chapters of American history.
“It’s gotten bad,” said Griffin Guttormsson, a junior at Arvada High School who wants to become a teacher and spent the school day soliciting honks from passing cars. “The school board is insane. You can’t erase our history. It’s not patriotic. It’s stupid.”
The Jefferson County School board is now dominated by a conservative majority, but these are no ordinary conservatives. They are Tea Party devotees of billionaire fossil fuel magnates, Charles and David Koch education agenda, complete with their own astro-turfed Media backers:
[T]he board, in turn, has drawn praise from Americans for Prosperity-Colorado, a conservative group affiliated with the Koch family foundations.
AFP's Colorado State Director, Dustin Zvonek, recently authored an op-ed piece
for the Colorado Observer
attacking teacher's unions and praising the new board for their pro-charter school, pro-voucher and anti-teacher agenda. It's become apparent to parents, teachers, and now the students that this group has anything but their interests in mind:
“We’ve had conservatives on our board before,” said Michele Patterson, the president of the district’s parent-teacher association. “They were wonderful. These people, they’re not interested in balance or compromise. They have a political agenda that they’re intent on pushing through.”
"No compromise, no balance, intent on pushing through their political agenda." In other words, they are the very embodiment of the "Tea Party," the same folks who in 2010 shouted down voices of dissent in Town Halls across the country in their failed effort to deny Americans health care.
The Times article and several others from local papers quote students involved in the protest who explain why they're unwilling to have themselves subjected to the Kochs' mind-control experiments:
Leighanne Grey, a senior at Arvada High School, said that after second period, a student ran through the halls yelling, “The protest is still on!” and she and scores of her classmates got up and left.
She said that learning about history, strife and all, had given her a clearer understanding of the country.
“As we grow up, you always hear that America’s the greatest, the land of the free and the home of the brave,” she said. “For all the good things we’ve done, we’ve done some terrible things. It’s important to learn about those things, or we’re doomed to repeat the past.
"I don't think my education should be censored. We should be able to know what happened in our past," said Tori Leu, a 17-year-old student who protested at Ralston Valley High School in Arvada.
A student demonstrator, Tyrone G. Parks, a senior at Arvada High School, said Tuesday that the nation's foundation was built on civil protests, "and everything that we've done is what allowed us to be at this point today. And if you take that from us, you take away everything that America was built off of."
"Our entire history, things that changed America for the better, were acts of civil disobedience," said Debbie Velarde, a junior at Wheat Ridge High School which also had a smaller walk out of about 40 students. "The Declaration of Independence was an act of civil disobedience."
, comparing the Koch Brothers' attempt at historical revisionism to Stalin's Russia and Hitler's Germany:
"An idea is to censor U.S. history so they can't talk about some of the negatives, or they don't want to talk about civil disobedience, which is censorship," said Arvada West junior Cuttitta. "And censorship's communism, censorship's national socialism, censorship is terrible."
The Tea Party must be proud to finally find themselves placed in a historical context.
Great Videos and photographs here of the protests.
Laura Clawson's front-page post on the protests is here.