Jefferson County, Colo., closed two high schools for the second time in the past two weeks as teachers and students continue to protest major school board changes.
After 81 percent and of teachers at Golden High School and 70 percent at Jefferson High School called in sick on Monday, the county was forced to close both schools, according to CBS Denver. The county was forced to close two other schools on Sept. 19 due to similar protests.
Teachers and students are unhappy with two separate initiatives by the Jefferson County school board. Teachers have staged sick-outs over a new compensation model, which would base faculty raises and bonuses on teacher evaluations.
Students and teachers are also upset over proposed changes to the AP U.S. History curriculum. Students in Jefferson County have been staging walk-outs and protests over the changes since last week.
The board has proposed the creation of a new curriculum board that would ensure that AP U.S. History materials “promote patriotism” and don’t “encourage or condone civil disorder, social strife or disregard of the law.” The Jefferson County board proposed the curriculum changes in response to the College Board’s new AP U.S. History framework, which conservatives have decried as a “radically revisionist view of American history.”
Students say the Colorado changes would amount censorship and worry they won’t learn about civil rights movements. Students from both high schools protested the curriculum changes on Monday while schools were closed, according to CBS Denver.
Students are reportedly planning another major walk-out on Wednesday, which could jeopardize funding for the school district, according to KUSA.
In Colorado, Oct. 1 is “count day.” On that day, school districts count the number of students in attendance in order to calculate the per-student funding they will receive from the state. So masse student absences could negatively impact state funding for schools.
Columbine High School student Jordan Gleason told KUSA that he thinks a walk-out on that day would call attention to students’ point of view.
“October 1 will be a big day, it really will,” Gleason said. “If a thousand of us step out, even 10,000, if we can get that many students to step out, then we’re getting their attention and telling them that we have a voice.”
The Colorado Department of Education told the Denver Post that schools can still prove student attendance for 10 days after Oct. 1, however.
“All is not lost if they are not there on Oct. 1,” Janelle Asmus, a spokesperson for the department told the Denver Post.
The Jefferson County Superintendent Dan McMinimee has asked the board to include students in discussions about the changes to the AP U.S. History curriculum.
The teachers who staged the sick-out, however, could be penalized. If they don’t prove that they were in fact sick on Monday, their pay could be docked.