In late September students and teachers in Jefferson County, Colo., mounted walkouts in opposition to a proposal from a conservative school board member to make Advanced Placement U.S. History classes more patriotic. Over the course of 10 days, the walkouts prompted shutdowns at four schools in the county just west of Denver. “Civil disorder is much of what founded this country,” says Ashlyn Maher, a 16-year-old walkout leader.
The protests were a backlash against conservative efforts both locally and nationally to undo changes to the AP History curriculum, which were released in 2012 by the College Board, the New Jersey-based nonprofit that administers Advanced Placement tests. The guidelines, which went into effect this school year, are more detailed than previous versions and include statements like, “The emergence of an industrial culture in the United States led to both greater opportunities for, and restrictions on, immigrants, minorities, and women.”