There has been much consternation over the Jeffco school board proposal to seat a Curriculum and Textbook Review Committee. Cries of censorship have joined concerns
that the board will eliminate AP US History courses. These concerns have been mentioned
as the possible cause of an unusually large amount of teacher sick days used recently and
for students walking out of schools.
Agitators seem to have forgotten the Colorado Constitution, Article 9, Section 15 explicitly
gives control of instruction to local school boards. This is what is meant by local control. Sitting a curriculum review committee is a chance to expand community engagement. Community members will have an opportunity to learn what is taught in our schools. This should be an exciting opportunity.
They also seem to forget that although it has been nearly a decade, Jeffco has had curriculum
and textbook committees in the past. Currently, curriculum is selected by staff with very little
community engagement. Textbooks too are chosen by staff and then placed at libraries over the summer for a short period of time with little community announcement and that
passes for community input.
The Jeffco board has continuously supported programs that allow students opportunities to
get college credits while still in high school. In April of last year the board accepted three year
grants from the Colorado Legacy Foundation to pay for teacher professional development
and provide stipends for teachers getting AP training. In addition, the grants will provide
stipends to students at the participating high schools who score a three or higher on the AP
Clearly the board supports Jeffco students’ pursuit of advanced studies. While few will disagree there were objectionable parts to the initial resolution; the amended proposal
reads in part: “This committee shall be seated by the Board. Each director may name up to
two members of the committee. The charge to the committee is to review curricular choices
for accuracy and omissions, conformity to Jefferson County academic standards, and
to inform the Board of materials that may reasonably be deemed objectionable.”
Expanding community engagement and having the community have a better understanding of
what happens in Jeffco classrooms are suitable ways to fulfill the boards’ responsibilities for
control over curriculum. Why all the fuss?