When Opposing Censorship is Cover for It

This story in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer claims to be about opposing censorship: “Denver area students walk out of school in protest.”

albert einstein education

Hundreds of students walked out of classrooms around suburban Denver on Tuesday in protest over a conservative-led school board proposal to focus history education on topics that promote citizenship, patriotism and respect for authority, in a show of civil disobedience that the new standards would aim to downplay.

The youth protest involving six high schools in the state’s second-largest school district follows a sick-out from teachers that shut down two high schools in the politically and economically diverse area that has become a key political battleground.

Student participants said their demonstration was organized by word of mouth and social media. Many waved American flags and carried signs, including messages that read “There is nothing more patriotic than protest.”

I don’t think my education should be censored. We should be able to know what happened in our past,” said Tori Leu, a 17-year-old student who protested at Ralston Valley High School in Arvada.

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.”

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.

Notice that all these students assume (just like they’ve been programmed!) that education is something that is done to them—something they simply need to receive. If the curriculum is changed, then their minds have no recourse. They couldn’t simply go to their local libraries (or even use Wikipedia.com) and learn for themselves. No, the only way to save their brains is to gain control of what other people teach them.

I think I agree with the protesters over the current people in power over the school curriculum, but it is still just ignorant to call it “censorship.” Educators have to choose content and emphasis. The only question is which information gets censored, not whether education will be “censored” at all. It is just ignorance to think otherwise.

I would love to see a real student protest. It would be a protest against truancy laws and child-labor laws. It would be accompanied by students loudly singing Pink Floyd’s “We don’t need no education.” Or maybe Alice Cooper’s “Schools out.”

Now that would be impressive.