The topic of this post has been an extremely prominent issue in the Denver area while I have been here. Although my school is in the Denver Public School system, this is an issue with education as a whole – not just one district. Not only has this been in the news lately, but it also impacts me as a future educator. It also impacts you, if for no other reason than that you are a citizen of this country. I have shared facts, links for additional information, my thoughts, and a few questions I would like people to think about. This may not faze you, and it might enrage you. Regardless, please seriously consider how this impacts the future generations of this country and the future of this country.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with the recent activities in the Jefferson County School District, I will provide you with a brief synopsis of what has been happening. Below, I have also put the links for my sources and for further information on this topic from a variety of news sources including CNN, Aljazeera, Fox News, and USA Today. The Jefferson County schools have an Advanced Placement United States History curriculum in place. According to several news sources, the JeffCo School Board has decided to “review that course [A.P. U.S. History] with an eye toward promoting patriotism,” (USA Today). The school board would like to create a committee to review said course. The JeffCo school board has made a proposal that, “will select materials that ‘promote citizenship, patriotism, essentials and benefits of the free-market system, respect for authority and respect for individual rights,’” and avoid materials that, “’encourage or condone civil disorder, social strife or disregard of the law,’” (Aljazeera America). Among other issues discussed at the school board meeting, the teachers and students alike were unhappy with this proposal and set up walk-outs that lasted days. One day, enough teachers called in sick the schools had to close. The next day, students walked out of JeffCo schools and continued to do so into the next week. The issue is still being discussed and no final decisions have been made.
As an educator, this impacts me. As an educator, this impacts my future students. As a future parent, this impacts my own children. Perhaps most importantly, this impacts me as a past, present, and future United States citizen. It also disturbs me. How do you learn from the past if you do not know what happened? How do you ensure that history does not repeat itself, if you are fed a censored version of the truth? It has nothing to do with being anti-American or not teaching Patriotism. It is simply a matter of being an informed citizen of this beautiful and powerful country. We could make a list of the times the United States had a positive impact on the world and then turn around and do the same for all of the times we had a negative impact on the world. This would be meaningless. It would be foolish to try to convince someone that the United States has never done any good on this planet. However, it would also be foolish to pretend we have not had a hand in some of the most horrifying and heart-wrenching acts against humanity. Sometimes the acts of a few, reflect many. The acts of our country, are a reflection of us – its citizens. It is time we hold ourselves accountable for the good and bad parts of our history and our actions as a nation.
I would love the opportunity to be an educator in a time when the history of this nation is not covered up, ignored, or disregarded; but rather, a time when the history of the United States of America is regarded with the utmost respect and a sense of accountability, responsibility, and awareness. If we, as members of the human family on this earth, want to ensure our negatives are not repeated and our positives are re-evaluated and applied when necessary, we cannot hide the truth from each other. There should be discussion about the Japanese Internment camps during WWII. There should be a discussion about the Native Americans and how our government treated them. There should be a discussion about the aftermath of dropping an atomic bomb on hundreds of thousands of people. There should be a discussion about slavery and the oppression of minorities. There should be a discussion about the Civil Rights Movement and its impact on our country. There should be a discussion about non-violent resistance and non-violent movements in our history. The only way to be certain that the ugly parts of our history do not reappear is to talk about them. This country has a great deal to be proud of, but we are not perfect. We owe it to our future generations to expose our history in its entirety – the good, the bad, and the ugly. It is truly the only way to ensure this country moves forward with its founding ideals close at heart.
Here are the links, as promised. Enjoy.