When I wrote “When Opposing Censorship Is Cover for It,” I took the story at face value that there was a huge dispute over curriculum. The school board voted to teach a certain way and the students objected.litle
However, it now looks like the most important comment I made in that post was about the students following cool teachers.
This is a protest?
I don’t think so.
This is a bunch of students siding with the cool teachers against the stodgy ones. This isn’t rebellion against authority. This is following authority.
Michelle Malkin’s column yesterday argued that the reasons for the student protest had very little to do with curriculum. That is because it had very little to do with the students themselves. They were manipulated by teachers to serve the interests of teachers—or, more specifically, the teachers’ union.
The teachers in Jefferson County, Colorado, were striking for typical union reasons involving a desire to make sure the job was a life-time position and there was no accountability.
Despite the hefty rewards for teacher competence and excellence, disgruntled union leaders called for a strike last Friday (or as they prefer to whitewash it, a “sickout”). The Big Labor avengers succeeded in shutting down two schools — and enlisting students to protest with them. But the optics of robbing kids of valuable educational time to protest an $18.2 million salary compensation package did not play well with taxpayers.
Enter the “censorship” fakeout.
At the same board meeting where the new pay system was approved, elected school board members heard a proposal to form a curriculum review committee. Under the state constitution, elected local school boards are responsible for instructional and curriculum matters. It’s their duty. The proposal called for the creation of a new, nine-member panel “to review curricular choices for conformity to JeffCo academic standards, accuracy and omissions, and to inform the board of any objectionable materials.”
The panel’s first review items would be the elementary health curriculum and the A.P. U.S. History (APUSH) curriculum, which has undergone a radical revamp over the past few years.
The chief architect of the APUSH revisions is David Coleman, a progressive ideologue who is also one of the prime movers and shakers behind the Common Core standards scheme. Objections to the shoddy, intrusive, costly, top-down, backroom-designed Common Core agenda cross party lines. Rank-and-file teachers across the country have joined a diverse anti-Common Core coalition of parents, administrators, scholars, grassroots activists, privacy advocates and anti-cronyism watchdogs.
The JeffCo school board takes its deliberative role seriously. The proposal is the opposite of censorship. The debate over history standards is part of a wider battle between left-leaning militant teachers’ unions, who explicitly see their primary role as Saul Alinsky-trained political agitators, and those who want to restore academic excellence, rigor and ideological balance in the schools.
So, if Malkin is right, this was a convenient fight because it got the students in a tizzy about education and thus distracted the public and the media from the fact that the teachers weren’t teaching. They were striking.
So the issues are even shallower than what I described in my post.