Students demand to be taught real history

Students protest outside of Ralston Valley High School in Arvada, Colo. The students are protesting a proposal by the Jefferson County School Board to emphasize patriotism and downplay civil unrest in the teaching of U.S. history.  Photo: Brennan Linsley/Associated Press.

Schools seem to blur the line between history and propaganda.

If they didn’t, more of us would’ve grown up knowing that Abraham Lincoln ordered the largest mass execution in the nation’s history, for example. Or we’d know that Lake Calhoun is named after an ardent supporter of slavery, state’s rights, and the architect of the forced removal of Native Americans from their land. Or that soldiers, acting on behalf of business, shot and killed women and children because miners demanded better working conditions.

It’s not the sort of thing of which we can be proud. It’s just part of our history.

This has been going on for generations, of course, but in Colorado some kids are demanding they be taught real history, not public relations.

In Jefferson County, students have walked out of schools for a third day today after a curriculum committee proposed a history curriculum promoting “positive aspects” of the United States and its heritage and avoiding material that would encourage or condone “civil disorder, social strife or disregard of the law.”

A conservative-dominated school committee has put off a vote until next month.

Give the students credit. They at least knew enough about history to point out the obvious.

“Our entire history, things that changed America for the better were acts of civil disobedience,” said Debbie Velarde, a junior.

“The school board is insane. You can’t erase our history. It’s not patriotic. It’s stupid,” Griffin Guttormsson, a junior at Arvada High School, told the New York Times.

“As we grow up, you always hear that America’s the greatest, the land of the free and the home of the brave,” another student 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.”

“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,” school board member Julie Williams said of the current curriculum. She proposed the new curriculum.

Twitter didn’t miss the opportunity to lampoon it.