Denver schoolsAE Rebellion Not the One They Wanted; Teachers Told to Push 'Social actionAE

Article excerpt

Byline: Valerie Richardson, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

DENVER -- Students in the Denver Public Schools need to know reading, writing and AErithmetic, but what about the fourth r u revolution?

District officials have scrambled to respond to a public outcry over language in the new teacher-assessment criteria that describes a distinguished teacher as one who encourages students to challenge and question the dominant culture and take social action to change/improve society or work for social justice.

The districtAEs Framework for Effective Teaching also said teachers would be scored on whether [s]tudents appear comfortable challenging the dominant culture in respectful ways.

John Peterson, an East High School social studies teacher, said he didnAEt think spurring students to buck power fell under his job description.

I think our job is not to challenge the dominant culture, but to prepare students for college or the military or the workforce, and be productive citizens, Mr. Peterson said. 'Working toward social justiceAE typically comes as code words from the far left for big government programs and a redistributionist philosophy.

After critics challenged the language, calling it more suitable to an Occupy Wall Street manifesto than a public-schools document, the district revised the standards by eliminating references to the dominant culture and social change.

The updated language says a top teacher encourages students to think critically about equity and bias in society, and to understand and question historic and prevailing currents of thought as well as dissenting and diverse viewpoints, and cultivates studentsAE ability to understand and openly discuss drivers of, and barriers to, opportunity and equity in society.

Schools Superintendent Tom Boasberg said the original wording wasnAEt worded in the way that it should have been and [failed to] capture the real intent of what we want to get at, which is, we want our students to be critical thinkers.

If you look at people from Thomas Jefferson to Abraham Lincoln to Teddy Roosevelt to Martin Luther King to Ronald Reagan, they might have come from all different parts of the political spectrum, but they all challenged many of the main tenets of prevailing thought, Mr. Boasberg said during a Sept. 27 interview on KOA-AMAEs The Mike Rosen Show.

The shoutout to three Republican presidents notwithstanding, critics argued that the districtAEs intent with the original criteria wasnAEt to re-create the Reagan revolution but rather to push a left-wing political agenda in the classroom. …