GOLDEN, Colo. (AP) — Hundreds of suburban Denver high school students missed school again Monday as teachers shut down two high schools by calling in sick amid a controversy over proposed changes to an Advanced Placement history class and changes to their pay.
Classes were canceled at Golden and Jefferson high schools after 81 percent and 70 percent of teachers called in sick respectively. Some students who had the day off hit the street to protest against a proposal from the board’s new conservative majority to review the history course to make sure it promotes patriotism and doesn’t condone social disorder.
At Jefferson High School in Edgewater, about 30 students marched to busy Wadsworth Boulevard and protested in front of the school holding signs such as “We have a right to know history.”
At Golden High School, English teacher Tammie Peters told The Denver Post that teachers are “sick of the board majority actions.”
The action follows large student walkouts last week over the proposal, which the school board is scheduled to discuss at its meeting Thursday. The waves of protest began after a sickout at two other high schools on Sept. 19 the day after the school board discussed the history proposal as well as backed a plan to link teacher raises to their evaluations. Teachers say that evaluation system is flawed.
Superintendent Dan McMinimee said teachers who couldn’t prove they were sick could be docked a day’s pay and that teachers who continue to use sick days to protest could ultimately be punished for insubordination.
“What’s the end game? What is to be gained from taking away a day of education for students and putting families in a difficult situation,” he asked.
He was more sympathetic to students, who have not been disciplined apart from getting unexcused absences for walking out of class to protest. McMinimee, who has a standing invitation to meet with any students on the issue, said students are worried about keeping a rigorous curriculum and being able to compete with students from elsewhere. If the board moves ahead with the proposal, he said he would ask that students be included.