Jeffco Schools Superintendent Dan McMinimee sends email to parents about student protests

JEFFERSON COUNTY, Colo. - After hundreds of students walked out of classes on Tuesday, Jeffco Public Schools Superintendent sent an email to parents Tuesday night. (Read more about the Tuesday walkouts here.)

In the email labeled "chalk talk," Dan McMinimee said, "I want our parents to have information about what we’re doing to keep children safe while at the same time, respecting their right to free speech."

McMinimee told parents the district is working with law enforcement to do, "our best to ensure that students are safe when they leave school property to protest."

McMinimee then went on to explain his side of what caused the protest.

This month, Jeffco School Board of Education member Julie Williams asked that the board create a board-appointed community committee which would review district curriculum and make recommendations.

His letter said that Ms. Williams suggested that the proposed committee review the content of the Advanced Placement U.S. History curriculum.

The proposal, which is spelled out on the Jeffco Schools agenda last week, actually lists two items the committee should start with, "The committee’s initial projects will be a review of the AP US History curriculum and elementary health curriculum."

"The board did not take any action on the resolution, but instead tabled it until a future board meeting," McMinimee wrote.

McMinimee said he and his leadership team have met with students about the proposal.

"I have personally met with a group of students from Evergreen and Lakewood high schools, listening to their legitimate concerns, answering their questions and providing them accurate information," McMinimee wrote. "We want our students to know that we respect their viewpoints and have heard their anxiety over the issue. Our students deserve to be heard and need to know that they can have a role in shaping their education."

Williams issued a statement, too. She said there is a huge debate and controversy surrounding the new AP U.S. History curriculum (APUSH). She called it untested and unresearched.

"It came into existence quite recently under dubious and secretive circumstances (just like the Common Core)," Williams wrote. "APUSH rejects the history that has been taught in the country for generations."

Williams says "APUSH rejects the history that has been taught in the country for generations. It has an emphasis on race, gender, class, ethnicity, grievance and American-bashing while simultaneously omitting the most basic structural and philosophical elements considered essential to the understanding of American History for generations."

Williams said the curriculum omits Jefferson, Adams, Madison, Franklin and doesn't mention of Martin Luther King, Jr.

Students call the curriculum censorship.

"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."

"What we really want is a promise from them that they won't restrict the content that is taught in our classes," said student Eric Temple. "Because we believe that if they restrict that content then we're not going to get the education that we think we should."

According to a spokeswoman for the Jeffco School District, Williams' proposal was tabled at the meeting, but will be discussed at the next school board meeting.

Important links:

APUSH: http://apcentral.collegeboard.com/apc/public/courses/teachers_corner/3501.html

Williams' letter: http://www.jeffcopublicschools.org/media/web_news/2014/Press%20Release%20for%20APUSH.pdf

Williams' proposals: http://www.boarddocs.com/co/jeffco/Board.nsf/goto?open&id=9NBUKW7C6977

Read about the protests on Tuesday: http://ch7ne.ws/ZbSxSO

 

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