Saturday, September 27, 2014

Contraries: One, Two, Three, Four! What Are We Protesting For?

By Mary Grabar


at the 2014 People's Climate March
The 2014 People's Climate March
The Dissident Prof was wondering why high school students would be staging walk-outs and protests over history standards, but suspected there had to be some teachers involved. Today's high school and college students are so immersed in stories about the glory days of protests that they will walk out of class and hold up a sign at any opportunity. The Denver Post announced, "Hundreds of Jeffco students walk out in largest school board protest" and then the Huffington Post reported, "Nearly 1,000 Colorado Students Protest a Conservative Call to Change Their History Curriculum." Huff Post reporter Matt Ferner demonstrated he knows his stuff by pening with:


“After calling for a history curriculum that downplays "social strife" and emphasizes "respect for authority," a conservative Denver-area school board has attracted the same kind of civil disobedience it had hoped to gloss over in the classroom.”

Well, we all know that every good thing in history has come about through protest. Read the textbooks, watch the PBS videos, and listen to the classroom discussions, and you will know that protest has become a sacred rite. So, it's natural that the kiddos skip class and take to the streets. Students once again are rising up! Hey, it's like the Sixties:

“Hundreds of students marched Thursday in the fifth day of demonstrations against the Jefferson County school board, which oversees the second-largest school district in Colorado. Protests began last Friday after members of the board called for a review of the new Advanced Placement U.S. History (APUSH) curriculum to see whether it promotes "respect for authority" or encourages "civil disorder, social strife or disregard for the law."

Uh, it's not quite that simple. For a quick summary of what the controversy is about read Jane Robbins's excellent column in USA Today, "Exam erases U.S. exceptionalism." Robbins points to a Pioneer Institute study of the Advanced Placement U.S. History (APUSH) Curriculum Framework that reveals that the new AP curriculum is ideologically slanted to the left. (Howard Zinn, for some reason, seemed to be pushed on the bright kids, but now that version of history is part of the official detailed AP curriculum.)

Leave it to Michelle Malkin to get to the bottom of the story about the protests: "'A' Is for Agitation: What's Really Going on in Jefferson County Schools." It's not about censorship (i.e., conservatives attempting to wipe out the negative aspects of U.S. history), but about union control. Students followed teachers, who walked out to protest a new pay system based on performance. At the same school board meeting where the pay system was approved, board members heard a proposal for a curriculum review committee; among the items was the APUSH curriculum. Malkin writes,

“While every liberal "-ism" has been incorporated into the school day -- from environmentalism and collectivism to social justice activism to mandatory volunteerism, feminism and transgenderism -- JeffCo school board members are now being mocked for simply proposing that citizenship, individualism and patriotism have a fundamental place at the schoolteacher's table.”

Imagine having a school board that is able to, and does, take a position on the curriculum and demands a balanced approach to teaching U.S. history! How dare they oppose "The Schoolmaster" David Coleman, teaching applicant-reject (but Rhodes scholar), president of the College Board (which wrote the history standards) and architect of Common Core. School board president Ken Witt told Malkin that he was upset about students missing class and being manipulated by teachers for their own interests: "The agitators' ultimate goal is 'to create turmoil and discredit [the] board before those negotiations.'"

Protest is in the air. We are having pretty fall weather here in Central New York. Last weekend was a good time to go to New York City for a march, and college students did. After all, who would want to miss the "largest climate march in history" as the Columbia University student newspaper noted? They came from far and wide to participate with 400,000 other people in the People's Climate March ahead of last week's UN Climate Summit, for world leaders, including President Obama. Eighty students and nine faculty and staff member traveled from Williams College in Massachusetts. The Williams Record reported that protestors marched more than four miles and "carried signs and played live music." The social action was organized by the Williams Environmental Council. Funding came from the Center for Environmental Studies, the Davis Center, the Department of Africana Studies, College Council and the Chaplain's Office. Dozens of college students were also among the contingent of 300 people from Minnesota.

Some groups did more than march. They demanded their campus divest from fossil fuels investments. This was in addition to the demand for "meaningful action" on climate change, as noted in the Columbia Spectator.

Divestment from fossil fuels was demanded by the "more than 45 Hamilton [College] students, alumni, faculty and staff" who "boarded buses, cars, trains and subways to arrive at the corner of 71st St. and Central Park West in New York City to participate in the People's Climate March." The Spectator also reported, "Both Hamilton's Environmental Action Group (HEAG) and Fossil Fuel Divestment Organization spearheaded the initiative to bring the marchers from Clinton, N.Y. to New York, N.Y."--a distance of 249 miles by Thruway.

U.S. Messenger of Peace But it's not as far as Minnesota...or the Marshall Islands, from whence came "spoken-word poet" Kathi Jetnil-Kijiner who reportedly moved the dignitaries to tears with her poem for her baby daughter about the threat of climate change. Dissident Prof doesn't know if climate change dignitary Leonardo DiCaprio jetted in from Hollywood as the United States Messenger of Peace, or if he did rub shoulders with any of the "people" in the People's March. But the Hamilton Spectator did report that "Several [students] were fortunate enough to run into longtime environmental writer and activist Bill McKibben." No doubt that is good use of "buses, cars, trains and subway trains" and the fossil fuels used to run them.

This originally appeared here and I wish to thank Mary for allowing me to publish her work.  RK 

 

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