1 October 2014: Jeffco students learning to be Americans

Jeffco students learning to be Americans

OK, kids, er young adults, you rock!  From Scotland to Jeffco.   From voting on secession and becoming an independent nation to exercising your First Amendment rights and demanding your right to a well-rounded education is fulfilled.

We adults ought to be taking lessons from you since you totally get it about the fragility of liberty as opposed to tsk-tsking and uttering simple-minded bromides such as “It’s a shame we see kids on the streets instead of in classrooms.”  According to them, you’re “pawns,” unwitting fools and tools of your teachers, not smart and strong enough to make up your own minds.

“People think because we are teenagers, we don’t know things, but we are going home and looking things up,” Savanna Barron, a senior at Lakewood High School, told the Denver Post.  However many ostensibly well-informed parents “were surprised to hear their kids knew more than they did,” note reporters Jesse Paul and John Aguilar.

Thanks for doing your homework!

You understand that if liberty is not defended, if citizens are not eternally vigilant against what Thomas Jefferson, for whom your county and school district ironically were named, called “usurpations,” it disappears.  You’re showing your elders up.  You’re embarrassing them.  Good show!  Don’t quit!  Instruct them about true patriotism.

The proposed Jeffco Board of Education history curriculum would eviscerate teaching events that “encourage or condone civil disorder, social strike or disregard of the law.”  Ironically, once again, if implemented, the Tea Party would have to forsake its moniker since it took its name from the early American rabble-rousers and saboteurs that defied authority and destroyed the private property of one of the most powerful and wealthy corporations of its day.

Thus, while some parade around in silly faux 18th-century costumes with tea bags ludicrously dangling from their hat brims, our neighboring Jeffco youth are putting into practice what Sam Adams and his brethren modeled.  They’re young 21st-century Sam Adamses.

The rightwing-Republican dominated Jeffco BOE claims its goal is to “promote citizenship, patriotism, essentials and benefits of the free-market system, respect for authority and respect for individual rights,” but ultimately it’s the dissolution of liberty it’s calling for.

To that their students say horse-pucky.  They understand that if history, especially ours, is not studied in complete honesty, from triumphs to worst moments, we not only will not learn from it but we’ll also repeat it.  Despotism relies on fear and short-term historical memory for it to succeed.

“It’s gotten bad,” the New York Times reports Griffin Guttormsson, a junior at Arvada High School and aspiring teacher, saying. “The school board is insane. You can’t erase our history. It’s not patriotic. It’s stupid.”

Denver Post old-school conservative columnist Vincent Carroll writes, “Even in the early 19th century, visitors to America were surprised by the egalitarian spirit that suffused the populace, especially on the frontier. It wasn’t just how Americans refused to bow and scrape before their supposed superiors; they also believed the common man — well, the white common man anyway — was fully capable of forming his own opinions on social, political and even religious affairs.”

In Scotland 16- and 17-year-olds were awarded and exercised the right to vote.  In so doing, they learned the joys, frustrations, and complexities of democracy.  Their Jeffco peers moved the classroom from a rigid, test-dominated concrete box into the streets.  In so doing, the streets and overpasses have become their classroom.  Right on!

After the intellectual cleansing and white-washing of history, one wonders on what the Jeffco BOE Big Three—Ken Witt, Julie Williams, and John Newkirk—will train its guns.  Sex ed for one given the BOE also wants to “re-evaluate” the elementary health curriculum, probably in the pursuit of “wholesomeness.”  What could follow are creationism as science and the Christian Bible superseding the Constitution as our governing body, America’s version of Sharia Law.

Carroll sums it well: “History is not a morality tale. It does not exist to make us feel good or bad, although it often does both. To the extent we can, let’s keep the politics — left and right — from tainting its presentation.”

Absolutely.  Let’s not quiver, quake, and bury our heads while studying history.  Over the past two and a half centuries Americans have made phenomenal achievements.  We’ve also done some pretty nasty and embarrassing stuff.  It’s all part of who we are, and by not denying our warts and less-than-finer moments, we’re a stronger people.

To that end, thanks, Jeffco students, for reminding us what it means to be a true American.

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