Education History Koch Brothers

The Conservative War on History Continues

The conservative war on history, which recently reared its head in Texas where state officials voted to drop the Advanced Placement U.S. History curriculum because it was “anti-American,” has spread to the Denver, Colorado area where the local school board is following suit.

The Jefferson County school board appears to be going a step further, however, by dropping negative events in our history and discouraging civil disobedience.

via ThinkProgress

According to the curricula proposal, students would only be taught lessons depicting American heritage in a positive light, and effectively ban any material that could lead to dissent. Under the proposed policy, a review committee would regularly read instructional text and course syllabi to ensure that educational materials do not stray from subject matter that complies with the policy.

Admittedly to my surprise, students reacted to the proposed changes by walking out in protest, with one local senior saying that protest is part of what “America was built off of.”

These students are clearly a brighter bunch than my fellow students were at my high school. My fellow students in the late 1990s would have shrugged their shoulders and asked ‘who cares?’ This gives me hope that we may not be doomed after all, but I digress.

The New York Times has more details.

The teachers’ union, whose members forced two high schools to close Friday by calling in sick, has been in continual conflict with the new board; the board, in turn, has drawn praise from Americans for Prosperity-Colorado, a conservative group affiliated with the Koch family foundations. In April, Dustin Zvonek, the group’s director, wrote in an op-ed that the board’s election was an “exciting and hopeful moment for the county and the school district.” [...]

Almost from the outset, the three conservative newcomers to the five-person board clashed with the two others, and a steady stream of 3-to-2 votes came to represent the sharp divisions on the board and in the community. [...]

“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.”

I keep coming back to the same question.

Why do conservatives want to emulate the educational practices of nations they would call enemies by censoring negative events in our history? Isn’t that what they accuse liberals of doing? Don’t they trot out boogeymen like George Soros and Saul Alinksy and accuse liberals of rewriting history? Don’t they accuse liberals of brainwashing and indoctrinating our children?

In multiple locations across the country, conservative school board members are doing exactly that and it may be the most revolting conservative cause ce le bre today.

  • FlipYrWhig

    My education proposal is to train people to stop saying “build off of” instead of the perfectly valid, shorter, and comprehensible “build on.” Other than that, carry on.

  • missliberties

    Crazy stuff. I live in Jefferson County. Years ago the education system in JeffCo was used as a model for National Education. I was lucky to be a part of it.

    The crazies have taken over in Douglas County school board. My sister who, teachers in Doublas County was nominated teacher of the year by her students. The f*cked with her classes all last year.

    I was extremely disappointed to see the JeffCo school board get a conservative majority. It is so upsetting.

    We shall we what comes to pass. But thank You Students. Keep up the good work.

  • Christopher Foxx

    I keep coming back to the same question.

    Why do conservatives want to emulate the educational practices of nations they would call enemies by censoring negative events in our history?

    And why are’t the liberal members of these boards (and the “sick” teachers and the protesting students) asking, and pushing every reporter they talk to, exactly that question?

    The “conservatives” will never grasp the cognitive dissonance of their position, but they just might back off if they get embarrassed enough.

    • Ashes Defacto

      To be embarrassed you’d have to have to be able to feel shame, something conservatives seldom do these days.

      • Christopher Foxx

        “Seldom” is overstating the frequency.

  • Draxiar

    So if this actually goes through will it be acceptable for the history students to turn their “F” into an “A” by adding an extra line if they don’t like their grade?

  • trgahan

    “They have a political agenda that they’re intent on pushing through.”

    Colorado is a great place to see the coming Conservative Vengeance if and when Republicans regain control of a state (in Colorado’s case) and/or national (as in White House in 2016) government. The right sees Colorado’s “blue-ing,” (like recent GOP presidential electoral disasters) as a betrayal by citizens, not as their own failure to attract voters, being out of touch, etc.

    Like these school board members, the most recently elected crop seem to quickly tip their hands that they are not only there to push a radical agenda dictated by some think tank, but they must activity work to PUNISH the states and/or the nation they now lead for everything that has happened since 2009.

    • GrafZeppelin127

      They’ve certainly punished the nation for electing a Democratic president in 2008. For years I’ve been saying that what most people call “obstructionism” is actually a form of blackmail/extortion. The GOP is saying to America, “This is what happens when you elect a Democrat president. Give us back our White House, or the country gets it.”

  • GrafZeppelin127

    Glad I got out of teaching when I did.

    Seriously, this is precisely analogous to “the educational practices of nations [‘conservatives’] would call enemies[.]” That the irony is lost on them is not the least bit surprising.

    • JMAshby

      I’m simultaneously impressed and perplexed by anyone who goes into teaching today.

  • muselet


    The school board proposal that triggered the walkouts in Jefferson County calls for instructional materials that present positive aspects of the nation and its heritage. It would establish a committee to regularly review texts and course plans, starting with Advanced Placement history, to make sure materials “promote citizenship, patriotism, essentials and benefits of the free-market system, respect for authority and respect for individual rights” and don’t “encourage or condone civil disorder, social strife or disregard of the law.”

    The proposal from Julie Williams, part of the board’s conservative majority, has not been voted on and was put on hold last week. She didn’t return a call from The Associated Press seeking comment Tuesday, but previously told Chalkbeat Colorado, a school news website, that she recognizes there are negative events that are part of U.S. history that need to be taught.

    “There are things we may not be proud of as Americans,” she said. “But we shouldn’t be encouraging our kids to think that America is a bad place.”

    Isn’t that just precious?

    Good on the students and teachers for protesting.


    • trgahan

      On a practical note…how do you think one is supposed to teach citizenship, patriotism, and respect for authority (each requiring a degree of self sacrifice for the good of the whole) while also teachning the essentials of a free-market system and respect individual rights (both requiring the whole to be sacrificed in the face of individual want/desire)?

      • Brutlyhonest

        Everyone knows fascists are the only true patriots!

      • muselet

        Yes, but the version of the free-market system Righties subscribe to involves giving as much as possible to the Makers and screwing over the Takers, so teaching “the essentials and benefits of the free-market system” means engineering a generation of docile wage-slaves.

        It’s a lot more like feudalism than anything Adam Smith would have imagined.


        • captkurt

          Their version of the free-market also includes using the ‘free speech’ of political contributions and lobbyists to guide legislation in their
          favor – to the detriment of the rest of our society. Free-market my ass. It’s only free for those who do not have the resources to alter the forces of the market that supposedly make it free.

        • trgahan

          I’d argue feudalism had more give and take than a typical Righties version of a “free market.” Even the lesser lords were able to get the King to sign that socialist agenda rag known as the Magna Carta.

          Current Righty economic theory boils down to “Whatever the rich conservative white guy wants, he gets! Only the public ever loses; he NEVER loses. The rest of us must “do the dance” at all times in hope he will share. Anything deemed in his way is to be removed with extreme prejudice at cost to the pubic.”

      • Christopher Foxx

        how do you think one is supposed to teach … while also teaching … ?

        These people think acting like repressive dictatorial regimes is upholding American standards. They have no problem with inherent contradictions.