Colorado School Board Retreats on Curriculum-Review Plan After Uproar

Students protest outside of Ralston Valley High School, Tuesday, Sept. 23, 2014, 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. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)
Students protest outside of Ralston Valley High School, Tuesday, Sept. 23, 2014, 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. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)
Students protest outside of Ralston Valley High School, Tuesday, Sept. 23, 2014, 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. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)

GOLDEN, Colo. (New York Times) — A battle over teaching American history that stirred student protests and kindled a debate about censorship in schools reached an emotional climax on Thursday night, as hundreds of parents and students here in suburban Denver sparred with a conservative school board majority over a proposal to create a curriculum-review panel.

But after two weeks of demonstrations and a fierce backlash across Colorado and beyond, the Jefferson County school board scrapped a plan that sought to teach students the “benefits of the free-enterprise system, respect for authority and respect for individual rights” while avoiding lessons that condoned “civil disorder, social strife or disregard of the law.” Instead, the board voted 3 to 2 to adopt a compromise that would allow community members, students and teachers to join the experts who already conduct curriculum reviews for the school district.

The superintendent, Dan McMinimee, who suggested the compromise, said it represented the “middle ground” in a fevered debate that pitted the board’s three new conservative members against students, parents, the teachers union and other critics who opposed an effort to steer lessons toward the “positive aspects of the United States and its heritage.”

The measure passed over the objections of two board members who said that they liked the compromise, but that they still had questions and needed more time to review it. As the board members cast their votes, audience members who packed into a meeting room here booed and shouted “Resign!” and “Recall!”

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